Scientists search for cause of mass marine die-off in Russia

Scientists search for cause of mass marine die-off in Russia

Massive deaths of marine life off of the Russian Pacific Coast have left many scientists baffled. At the beginning of October, thousands of dead sea creatures were spotted along the eastern coast, after they had been pushed on the shoreline by waves. Although environmental experts have already ruled out human activity as a cause, they are still investigating other possibilities.

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Among the dead ocean creatures are octopuses, crabs and sea urchins. The organisms were found washed up on Khalaktyrsky Beach, which is a popular surfing destination. This week, Russian environmental officials revealed that the water where the deaths occurred has excess amounts of phosphate ion, iron and phenol. But where this pollution originated is still a puzzle to scientists.

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At the same time, environmental officials are still trying to assess the full extent of the damage. There are fears that more dead fish and other marine life could be found in other areas. Speaking to ABC News, Elena Sakirko of Greenpeace revealed that signs of trouble have also been observed farther north.

The most affected areas are Avacha Bay to the south and Cape Nalychev to the north. Scientists who examined the impacted waters said that about 95% of sea creatures to the depth of 15 meters have died. But local environmental officials are suggesting that the deaths are a natural occurrence.

Several theories have arisen to try and explain the mass die-off. Some experts suggest that the marine organisms may have died due to a poisonous algal bloom, while others suggest that the event might have been caused by seismic activity. It is common for seismic activities in the region in question, as it is a volcanically active area.

Sakirko said that it is too early to rule out any theories, including that the deaths could be caused by human activity. For now, scientists and environmental officials must continue investigations to determine the exact cause of the deaths.

Via ABC News

Image via Valery Balievich

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