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New Zealand’s Brandon Ferguson discovered over 500,000 dead shells and shells when he was walking the shores of Maunganui Bluff Beach on the country’s north island.
Ferguson told Business Insider that he had seen this type of event on the same beach in the past when different types of shellfish were washed up dead on the shores.
An expert said the mussels were essentially cooked to death due to the hot weather and low tide.
Ferguson shared a video of the experience, hoping that the global community would be aware of the effects of climate change right on his doorstep.
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Hundreds of thousands of mussels cooked to death in New Zealand due to rising temperatures in New Zealand’s oceans.
New Zealander Brandon Ferguson posted a video on Facebook of Maunganui Bluff Beach in the country’s North Island showing hundreds of thousands of dead shells washed up on the shore.
Ferguson told Business Insider that he saw it with friends and family last week when he saw it.
“I’m based in the area, so I’m always on the coast collecting family food,” he said. “That day I was out with friends and family while they were fishing. We were waiting for the tide to turn so we could collect shells.”
Instead, Ferguson saw hundreds of thousands of shells with green lips that had appeared dead.
“It smelled of dead rotting seafood,” said Ferguson. “Some of the shells were empty, some were dead … some were just floating around in the flood.”
“There were well over 500,000 shells and shells on the coast.”
Ferguson said he had witnessed this type of event on the same beach in the past when different types of shellfish were washed up dead on the shores. He blamed rising temperatures and the warming of the sea water for the phenomena.
“It has happened in the past due to warm water temperatures, low tides and high pressure,” he said.
A 2019 New Zealand government report supports Ferguson’s theory: climate change has warmed ocean temperatures and destroyed the country’s native marine plants, animals, and habitats.
Between 1981 and 2018, total sea surface temperatures in New Zealand’s four oceanic regions, including Chatham Rise, Tasman Sea, subtropical and subantarctic, rose between 0.1 and 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade between 1981 and 2018.
“New Zealand’s oceans act like a giant sponge against the effects of climate change,” said New Zealand Environment Minister Vicky Robertson in the report. “It is likely that our oceans will absorb more carbon dioxide than our forests, but there is only so much that they and life can absorb in them – and the limits are not yet known.”
Robertson said that the warmer the water gets, the less it can absorb greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, which are increasingly released into the atmosphere and have a strong impact on climate change.
“Species growth in the oceans is affected, and coastal communities and habitats are at risk from flooding and rising sea levels,” Robertson said.
In December, a 386,000 square mile portion of the Pacific Ocean east of New Zealand rose about 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than average and threatened the survival of fish and corals in the region.
Andrew Jeffs, a marine scientist at the University of Auckland, told the New Zealand Herald that the mussels in Ferguson’s video were likely to have died of “heat stress” caused by hot weather and low tide at noon.
“The mussels die of heat stress. Imagine being in the midday sun for four hours a day for most of the week. In the end, you would be pretty sunburnt,” he told The Herald.
Jeffs added the strong prediction that if the temperatures continue to rise, the mollusks may soon disappear completely from New Zealand.
“In many other countries, we are seeing a polar movement in the spread of species as they adapt to temperature increases associated with climate change,” he told the Herald. “I expect we’ll see the same thing in New Zealand.”
Ferguson said he shared his video in the hope that the global community would take note of the effects of climate change right on his doorstep.
“It gets worse every year,” he told Business Insider. “In times like these, we should wake up and start respecting these places and paying attention to what happens before we lose our ‘Taonga’. [a Māori word meaning ‘treasure’] forever.”
He says he is “heartbroken” to see the marine life in his hometown disappear, and he fears the species will die out in the country.
“I fear that our next generation will miss something,” he said. “It hurts me the most.”
Read the original article about Business Insider