SCENES of devastation shocked people going to the beach this weekend as millions of sea creatures - from fish to lobsters and whelks - were washed up on Yorkshire’s East Coast.
Galeforce easterlies, big tides and plummeting temperatures saw tonnes of valuable shellfish as well as Dover Soles, cod and plaice disgorged onto the beaches, with many people coming and filling buckets and boxes and carrying them away.
Several dead seals were among the casualties of the terrible underwater storm, which left velvet crabs piled up in some places a foot deep at Fraisthorpe, near Bridlington.
“It was just like a war zone, total chaos,” said commercial fisherman Jack Sanderson, who was at Fraisthorpe with a group of fishermen, rescuing live lobsters to release back into the sea.
“There was every form of marine life, velvet crabs, lobsters, whelks, scallops, razorfish, Dover soles, cod, ling, wrasse and sand eels.
“We have had strong easterly winds up to force nine and combined with a 6.2 metre tide, and the fact there was a lot of cold, frost and snow, meant the water temperature dropped two degrees in one day, which is massive.
“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.”
Mr Sanderson, the skipper of New Venture, which sails out of Bridlington, said they had been frustrated by the actions of some members of the public who had been taking under-sized live lobsters off the beach, or those carrying eggs, which is against regulations.
The lobsters they picked up have been taken to tanks at Bridlington harbour, where they will be kept until they can be put back into the sea.
Mr Sanderson said: “Don’t get me wrong - we earn our living from the sea. But the regulations are there for everybody and it’s only us who comply. We will hopefully release some of the lobsters tomorrow. We will go out five or six miles and let them go.”
Bridlington is the lobster capital of Europe - in 2014 its landings of over 420 tonnes were more than anywhere else on the Continent, but Mr Sanderson said he was hopeful the amount of sealife seen on the beach was a reflection of healthy stocks and the natural disaster would not prove “totally catastrophic” for the industry.
Jason Harrison, skipper of the Scarborough shellfishing boat Shannon, who took his children to see the scenes at Fraisthorpe, said: “There were hundreds of thousands of lobsters, millions of mussels, you can’t count the number.
"The amount of velvets 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.”