Millions of sea creatures have been washed ashore by the combined effects of the Beast from the East and Storm Emma.
Beaches on the east coast are strewn with starfish, lobsters, crabs and shellfish which have been displaced by a combination of gale-force winds, freezing water temperatures and strong tides.
Dover sole, cod, plaice, whelks and scallops can also been seen on the sands near Bridlington, and several seal corpses were discovered. Velvet crabs were said to be piled ‘a foot deep’ on the beach at Fraisthorpe.
Many onlookers have taken live creatures away from the scene, although local fishermen have attempted to rescue some of the survivors with the aim of eventually releasing them back into the sea.
The ‘underwater storm’ was caused by force nine winds, a 6.2-metre tide and sea temperatures dropping by two degrees in just a day.
Trawlerman Jack Sanderson, who fishes out of Bridlington, said:
“The combination just stunned everything and the direction of the wind has brought it onto the beach. It is still coming out of the sea; every tide is leaving a fresh batch.”
The lobsters he and his crew have collected will be kept in special tanks at Bridlington Harbour before they are released six miles from shore. They also rescued around 2.5 tonnes of shellfish.
Fishermen are optimistic that the mass stranding is evidence of a healthy marine population and that stocks will recover quickly.
Scarborough skipper Jason Harrison added:
“There were hundreds of thousands of lobsters, millions of mussels, you can’t count the number. The amount of velvet crabs was scary. I’d say 80 to 90 percent of the lobsters were dead. This is the third time I have seen it in 30 years. It is nature, it happened before and it will happen again.”