General, Research, Technology

Ecological disaster: 95% of marine life died off the coast of Kamchatka

You've probably seen pictures of hundreds of the deadoctopuses, large fish, sea urchins and crabs washed up on the shore of Khalaktyr Beach, which have become widespread in social networks. It all started with the fact that earlier in September, local surfers began to complain about the deterioration of health after the swim. Complaints included burning and pain in the eyes, sore throat, vomiting, and fever, all of which occurred after immersion in water. Greenpeace specialists later took water samples, the analysis of which revealed an excess of the permissible level of oil products by four times. In addition, the level of phenols in water was 2.5 times higher. The administration of Kamchatka considers man-made pollution, a natural phenomenon or an earthquake due to a volcanic eruption as possible reasons. But what will be the consequences?

Avachinskaya Bay, Kamchatka. The pollution appears to have spread over a wide area.

What happened in Kamchatka?

Russian scientists say pollutionenvironment led to the mass extinction of marine life off the coast of the Far Eastern Peninsula Kamchatka. A team of divers discovered a "mass death" of marine life at a depth of 10-15 meters in Avacha Bay - this was announced on October 6 by Ivan Usatov from the Kronotsky Nature Reserve, adding that "95% of marine life died." Local residents began to publish videos with dead sea animals at the end of September.

“There are still some large fish, shrimp andcrabs, but very few, ”Usatov said at a meeting with the Governor of Kamchatka, Vladimir Solodov. In late September, local residents reported that surfers complained of eye and skin irritation after contact with water and posted videos on social media showing dead seals, fish and other sea creatures on at least three beaches in Avacha Bay.

WWF Russia announced on October 6 that the pollutant was not oil, but "a highly toxic transparent substance that is highly soluble in water."

Note that at the time of this writing, the exactthe cause of the mass death of marine animals is not known, but today the scale of the ecological catastrophe is striking. Researchers are now working to identify the source of the pollution, with a focus on potential man-made causes. Governor of the Kamchatka Territory Viktor Solodov told Ria Novosti that experts were taking samples from a nearby site, opened in the late 1970s for storing chemicals in the ground. "The most obvious answer, where there may be a source of pollution, is the Kozelsk pesticide landfill," the governor said.

According to WWF, the pollution of the Russian Far East looks very toxic.

See also: The largest oil spills, similar to the disaster in Norilsk

As the Russian Greenpeace reported on Telegram, about 108 tons of pesticides and agricultural pesticides are stored at the Kozelsky landfill. “In 2010, the landfill was closed with a membrane and filledground, and in 2018 a membrane was exposed on one edge. There have never been guards there, ”writes the organization's expert Ivan Blokov. The wildlife management team dispatched their own team to the scene to monitor the situation.

We also did not find a single largea dead sea animal or bird, however, upon submersion, we found that there is a massive death of living organisms at depths of 10 to 15 meters, 95% of them die. Some large fish, shrimp and crabs survived, but in very small numbers.

Scientists from the Kronotsky Nature Reserve, KamchatskyResearch Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography and the Kamchatka branch of the Pacific Institute of Geography warn that the death of these organisms will also kill the animals that feed on them. Thus, the researchers confirmed that an ecological disaster has occurred. The ecosystem has been significantly undermined and this will have long-term consequences, since everything in nature is interconnected.

The scale of the disaster

According to scientists, the contaminated area is muchmore than the parts they examined. The special commission plans to study the water area near the Kozelsk and Radyginsky military training grounds, located not far from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsk. This will determine if the leakage of pesticides has become the cause of the mass death of animals. The researchers also note that the likelihood of highly toxic contamination with an extremely soluble substance is high, as living organisms on the seabed have been affected.

The WWF conservation group also said the unexplained toxic pollution off Russia's Far East coast was likely caused by a highly soluble substance.

Sea lions on the Kamchatka Peninsula.

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Recall that in water samples takenGreenpeace experts previously found that the permissible level of oil products was four times higher, and the level of phenols in water was 2.5 times higher. Such data are consistent with the state of the ecological disaster in the region. Experts are not yet talking about what the consequences will be, including long-term ones, since more research is needed, but the nature of Kamchatka is unlikely to be able to recover quickly, let alone completely.