Tens of thousands of animals washed up on the beaches after the storm, photo by Bex Lynham

Mass marine death along North Sea coast

Monday 05 March, 2018

Tens of thousands of marine animals have been washed up along the UK’s east coast following the cold temperatures and rough weather over the last week. Crabs, starfish, mussels and lobsters are ankle-deep in places along the Holderness coast in Yorkshire.  Similar scenes have been reported down the North Sea coast including Norfolk and Kent.

Bex Lynam, North Sea Marine Advocacy Officer, says: “There was a three degree drop in sea temperature last week which will have caused animals to hunker down and reduce their activity levels. This makes them vulnerable to rough seas – they became dislodged by large waves and washed ashore when the rough weather kicked in. Larger animals such as dolphins are more mobile and can save themselves by swimming away when this sort of thing happens."

Dr Lissa Batey, Senior Living Seas Officer, The Wildlife Trusts, said: “We can’t prevent natural disasters like this – but we can mitigate against declining marine life and the problems that humans cause by creating enough protected areas at sea and by ensuring that these sites are large enough and close enough to offer fish, crustaceans, dolphins and other marine life the protection they require to withstand natural events such as this.”

Marine creatures have been washed up on other coastlines too. Norfolk Wildlife Trust say a lot of marine much marine life and debris washed up on the beach at NWT Holme Dunes near Hunstanton, in north west Norfolk.

Warden at the national nature reserve, Gary Hibberd said: “we’ve been out on the beach this morning, and although it is not as bad as what has been seen in Lincolnshire, there is much more wash-up than we would normally see: crabs, squat lobsters, star fish, sea anemones, sea cucumbers, sun stars and welks. Our experts are there now identifying some of the more unusual wildlife, and we have at least four new records of crabs for the site, including hairy crab.”

Kent Wildlife Trust reports starfish being bit by the storm, and said whilst it is tragic to see such widespread species loss along Kent’s coast, it is certainly not unusual, and it has been an exceptionally long and late cold spell. We are, however, confident that populations will recover in time.
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