Marine life found dead amid ecological disaster

Written by Science

Russian activists have declared an ‘ecological catastrophe’ following the deaths of thousands of marine creatures along the east coast of Kamchatka, Russia.

Alarming images of octopuses, urchins and swathes of dead sea creatures confirm huge mortalities of marine life across the Kamchatka region. Following dive surveys of the area, 95% of benthic (bottom-dwelling) organisms are thought to be dead, according to Ivan Usatov, researcher at the Kronotsky Nature Reserve and Pacific Institute of Geography.

Water samples indicated petroleum levels 4 times higher and phenol levels 2.5 times higher than usual.

Initial reports queried a nearby oil leakage, but increasing focus suggests pesticide contamination from a nearby secret plant may be the culprit. In tests carried out by Greenpeace, water samples indicated petroleum levels 4 times higher and phenol levels 2.5 times higher than usual.

This catastrophe has huge implications for ecosystem functioning, where loss of key organisms can have cascading effects. Chemical contamination, such as that evident here, can have a damaging effect on populations of bottom-dwelling organisms. With fewer grazing organisms to keep algal populations in check, the risk of harmful algal blooms (HABs) may be exacerbated. These blooms can pose a risk to human health and marine life by depleting oxygen levels.

The fate of persisting organisms remains at risk, where depletion of their benthic prey may inhibit survival.

The problem was first reported by a group of surfers over a month ago, complaining of eye irritation and chemical burns as a result of entering the water surrounding the Kamchatka Peninsula.

The extent of the disaster was originally downplayed by local authorities: “The color of the water is normal, the smell of the air is normal, the beach is completely clean.”

However, further investigations suggest that these initial dismissals were far from the truth.

With scenes that wouldn’t be lost in an apocalyptic film, this catastrophe throws into the spotlight anthropogenic damage to the environment.

View this post on Instagram

❗️ Мёртвые животные, которых мы нашли на Камчатке, будут отправлены на экспертизу ⠀ Наша команда исследовала бухты Большую Лагерную и Шлюпочную и обнаружила там множество мёртвых морских ежей и звёзд. По словам местных жителей, это нетипичная ситуация. ⠀ Несколько морских ежей и звёзд мы передадим в лабораторию для анализа 🔬 ⠀ По словам доктора биологических наук, сотрудника ТОИ ДВО РАН Владимира Ракова, сейчас важно отправлять на анализы именно мёртвых животных, так как в их организмах должны остаться вредные вещества. Вода в океане обновляется быстро, поэтому в ней вряд ли получится что-то обнаружить. ⠀ Эксперт Международного Союза Охраны Природы, специалист по морским млекопитающим Григорий Цидулко считает важным также определить причину гибели тюленей. Мертвых морских млекопитающих на берегу меньше, чем членистоногих и моллюсков, но их количество превышает типичное для той местности. Экспедиция Greenpeace пока не находила погибших ларг в обследованных бухтах, но если найдёт, будет действовать по рекомендации учёных. ⠀ Мы консультируемся со специалистами в разных областях научных знаний, чтобы собрать наиболее полную картину произошедшего в Тихом океане у берегов Камчатки. ⠀ 👉🏻 Поддержите наше требование изменить экологическую политику государства, чтобы не допускать подобных катастроф в будущем. Подпишите петицию по ссылке в шапке профиля (кнопка «Потребуйте остановить экологические катастрофы»). ⠀ #Гринпискризис #Камчатка __________________ ❗ ️ The dead animals that we found in Kamchatka will be sent to the lab ⠀ Our team explored Bolshaya Lagernaya and Shlupochnaya bays and found many dead sea urchins and stars there. According to local residents, this is an atypical situation. ⠀ We will send several sea urchins and stars to the laboratory for analysis 🔬 ⠀ According to Vladimir Rakov, Doctor of Biological Sciences, it's important to send dead animals for analysis, since harmful substances should remain in their organisms. Grigory Tsidulko, an expert of International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, also believes that it's important to determine the cause of death of seals. #SaveKamchatka

A post shared by Greenpeace России 🌏 (@greenpeaceru) on

Featured Image: NASA via flickr

Last modified: 12th October 2020

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copy link
Powered by Social Snap