‘I’ve never seen anything like this’: Hundreds of thousands of dead fish found off the coast of Japan

Disturbing images come from Japan. In recent days, hundreds of thousands of fish (mostly mackerel and sardines) have been found washed ashore or dead in the water off Hakodate port in the country’s northern Hokkaidō prefecture. Videos and photos show a silver blanket stretching for more than a kilometer. It is estimated that a total of approximately 1,200 tons of dead fish washed up in the area.

Another similar but smaller incident occurred on Wednesday, December 13, when 30-40 tons of dead sardines were found near the city of Shima in Mie prefecture in the south of the country. Japanese newspaper ‘The Mainichi’ explains that fishermen immediately set out to sea to collect fish because they were afraid that their carcasses would rot, reducing the oxygen level in the water and damaging the ecosystem. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” a fisherman who has worked in the area for 25 years told newspapers.

Japanese officials admitted that they did not know the cause of these events, which were not entirely new as they had been observed in the past. While the hypothesis is that the death of the fish was related to natural causes, a connection with water released into the ocean from tanks of the Fukushima nuclear power plant is categorically excluded.

There are two hypotheses that experts find most plausible: The first is that the fish died due to thermal shock. Both sardines and mackerel are actually migratory fish, and as they moved it is likely that they became trapped in a sea where temperatures were too low to allow them to survive. The second hypothesis is that the fish was stranded after being chased by amberjacks and other predators, and eventually became ‘imprisoned’ on the shore because it had no oxygen to breathe.

However, there is no definitive information at the moment. Speaking to newspaper Mikine Fujiwara, a local official admitted that the cause of these strandings was still “unknown”, adding that authorities planned to analyze the water in the affected sea area. The Japanese Fisheries Agency, on the other hand, shelved theories that the fish death might be related to Fukushima water and announced that “there were no abnormalities in the results of water monitoring investigations.”

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Source: Today IT

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