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Alarm as thousands of dead birds washed up on east coast

A dead puffin washed up on the east coast
A dead puffin washed up on the east coast
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ENVIRONMENTALISTS have raised concerns for marine life on the East Coast after extreme weather claimed tens of thousands of animals.

The “mass mortality” has been put at an estimated 150,000 velvet swimming crabs, 10,500 edible crabs, 2,000 common lobsters and a staggering 635,000 mussels in just one 10-mile stretch from Barmston to Bridlington along the Holderness Coast - in all around 800,000 individuals.

Razorshells washed up on the Holderness shore

Razorshells washed up on the Holderness shore

Cuttlefish bones have been recorded along the length of the East Coast, as well as increased numbers of dead harbour porpoises on Lincolnshire beaches.

The death of hundreds of seabirds, found washed up on beaches from Aberdeenshire to North Yorkshire, has also been blamed on the weather, with over 200 dead or dying puffins recorded on Yorkshire beaches alone between Scarborough and Withernsea.

The RSPB have described it as the worst puffin “wreck” seen for half a century, with around 10 per cent of the puffin population lost at Bempton.

The Natural History Museum Strandings team says over 150 porpoises have washed up along the East Coast this year, with 12 reported on the Lincolnshire coast. Evidence from post-mortem examinations shows a high level of disease and bacterial infection, which is being attributed to the prolonged winter and stormy weather.

Fisherman have been unable to put out to sea because of the strong easterly winds and when they have been able to fish the catches have been low, less than half this time last year, with lobsters still dormant because of the unseasonally low temperatures.

Kirsten Smith, Living Seas Manager for the North Sea Wildlife Trusts, said the loss of so many mature adults who should be producing eggs was a cause for concern: “Fishermen are suffering a direct loss of earnings but if anything happens to the habitat or the creatures themselves then you have a knock-in impact for the season after as well.

“These things do happen, but there’s the combined effect of scallop dredging last year and the work offshore on wind farms is all going to have a big effect on the marine environment.”

The figures were put together by the North East Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority.

Ms Smith added: “In terms of the seabirds it has had the worst effect since the strong easterlies in 1947, and in terms of crustacean mortality I’ve not seen anything like that in the last five years.

“It does happen but it has happened in such high numbers in such a short period of time to a lot of species at the same time.”

She said lobsters had been plucked out of their burrows and subjected to washing-machine-style churning, which had affected numerous creatures including filter-feeding razorshells, which have been washed up in large numbers at Saltfleetby on the Lincolnshire coast.