Herring Mass Death a Mystery

Herring Mass Death Troms

(Photo: Jan-Petter Jørgensen)

The inhabitants of Kvænes in Troms could hardly believe their eyes on the morning of New Year’s Eve: Overnight, the beach was full of dead herring, Nordlys writes.

No one knows for sure what’s happened in the popular hiking area in Nordreisa municipality. However, various theories have been tossed around, explains Jan-Petter Jorgensen (44) who took the mass death in sight on the beach with his dog Molly.

– People say that something similar happened in the 80s, and there is speculation among others that the river which flows into the ocean behind a promontory on the site, may have had something to do with it. Maybe the fish have been caught in the shallows and then died of fresh water? Jorgensen says to Dagbladet.

He estimates each individual fish to be of 100-150 grams and that the total might be about up to 20 tons. Now he’s worried about what might happen if no one removes the carcasses.

– This is an environmental problem, the fish are rotting.

– It’s hard to say what’s happened here, but the first thing that occurred to me is that the herring may have been frightened by saithe, says Jens Christian Holst, senior researcher at the Institute of Marine Research in Bergen, to Dagbladet.

Herring Mass Death Troms1Holst emphasizes that freshwater or currents at the site also may have played a role, and the recent storm: The fish may have been washed ashore.

– Or it could be a combination. We want to get samples if someone has taken fresh herring and put it in the freezer. We would like to rule out if it is due to illness or not, says the researcher.

– How common is it with such mass death?

– It does not happen often. Yet it is something we see from time to time, and it is a big event anyway. Should mass death prove to be repeated several times at the same place, we are even more interested in getting the matter investigated, says Holst.



Text by: Thor Lanesskog, ThorNews

Sources: Nordlys, Dagbladet

Categories: Nature

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