Thousands of dead marine animals have been found washed up on beaches along the UK’s east coast following Storm Emma and the ‘Beast from the East’.
Low temperatures and rough seas have killed a wide range of species, including crabs, starfish, mussels and lobsters, which are now strewn across beaches along the North Sea coastline, including in the counties of Yorkshire, Norfolk and Kent.
“There was a 3˚C drop in sea temperature last week which will have caused animals to hunker down and reduce their activity levels,” says Bex Lynam, North Sea marine advocacy officer for the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.
“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.”
In Yorkshire, conservationists and fisherman have been working to rescue stranded lobsters that are still alive, with the aim of gathering them up and keeping them in tanks until the weather improves.
Although distressing to see, conservationists believe that the common species should bounce back from the mass die-off.
“Marine life is generally quick to colonise spaces left empty,” says Richard Harrington from the Marine Conservation Society.
“It remains to be seen whether there will be longer term casualties, in population terms, from what we hope will stay an unusual, rarely-repeated event.”
Main image: Marine life washed up on the east coast. © Bex Lynam/Yorkshire Wildlife Trust