Hundreds of thousands of mussels dead in New Zealand heatwave
Published: 01:06 PM, 20 February 2020
Hundreds of thousands of mussels were cooked to death by rising temperatures on a beach in New Zealand’s North Island. Experts said that more mussels will die as the effects of the climate crisis accelerate.
Earlier this month, the dead molluscs have been found by Auckland man Brandon Ferguson at Maunganui Bluff Beach, near the northern tip of the North Island. He posted a video on social media site Facebook which has since gone viral.
The footage shows a stunned Brandon Ferguson wading through rockpools choked almost knee-deep with mussel shells remarking "they're all dead... there's nothing left".
Marine ecologist at Waikato University Professor Chris Battershill said there had been similar die-off in recent years involving tuatua cockles and clams.
"The common denominators seem to be really hot conditions with lots of sunlight and unusually calm waters for an extended period," he told the AFP news agency.
"This leads to a combination of heat stress and the animals running out of oxygen because the water's so still. They eventually succumb... they're effectively cooked alive."
University of Auckland marine scientist Andrew Jeffs said more mass die-offs were likely to occur as a result of climate change. Mussel populations would eventually move to cooler waters as temperatures rose.
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