Spring tides and gales blamed for killing sea life

Lobster, starfish and octopus found dead along beaches from Antrim to Dublin

Thousands of dead lobsters and other shellfish, starfish and octopuses have been identified in the past few days along beaches from Whitehead in Co Antrim down to Dollymount and Sandymount in Dublin Bay. Photograph: Bryan O'Brien/The Irish Times

Thousands of dead lobsters and other shellfish, starfish and octopuses have been identified in the past few days along beaches from Whitehead in Co Antrim down to Dollymount and Sandymount in Dublin Bay. Photograph: Bryan O'Brien/The Irish Times

Mon, Apr 1, 2013, 12:03

The Marine Institute says a combination of easterly gales and spring tides has caused large marine life mortality along the eastern seaboard.

Thousands of dead lobsters and other shellfish, starfish and octopuses have been identified in the past few days along beaches from Whitehead in Co Antrim down to Dollymount and Sandymount in Dublin Bay.

Sampling may be conducted next week, but Marine Institute phytoplankton expert Joe Silke said the wind speed and direction and tide heights were the most likely explanation for the mortalities.

The marine life, which is stranded by high tides and a heavy swell, was quickly starved of oxygen, causing a deep red colour in the case of cockles, he said. “We’ve had big storms off the west coast causing similar mortalities, such as starfish in Sligo almost four years ago. It’s a little more unusual on the east coast, but not uncommon.

“We haven’t seen any algal blooms which would explain this, and the mixture of species affected points to weather,” Mr Silke added.

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