Written by By Staff Writer, CNN
They’re massing on the beaches of Britain’s seaside resorts, three times as many as usual.
A hulking sea creature, similar to a jellyfish, pictured here laying on the sand near Poole, in southern England. Courtesy James Garton/Bristol Wildlife Trust
This week, thousands of dead sea creatures have been washing up along the coastlines of England and Wales.
The phenomenon, called a “kill,” is caused by entanglement, suffocation and decompression sickness, according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).
Here’s what’s causing the spectacle.
Dead fish and molluscs have also been finding their way ashore. Courtesy Alastair Hewett/Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Noah King, deputy chief executive at RSPB, said in a statement that “every year, we see dead fish and other marine life washed up on our shores due to entanglement on ropes and nets attached to boats.”
“However, this year, we’ve seen something different. Instead of this occurring on our shores, it’s coming ashore as marine dead zones off the coast,” he said.
Wildlife researchers are using sonar to identify the sea creatures. Courtesy Dave Ryan/Bristol Wildlife Trust
According to charity group the Bristol Wildlife Trust, 4,500 sea creatures have washed up on the waters around the UK in the last 24 hours.
The group reported that teams have been combing the coastline to remove the creatures, and are using a thermal camera to find more trapped creatures.
Sea animals have been weighed and measured to determine their weight. Courtesy Dave Ryan/Bristol Wildlife Trust
“One thing we do not know is what has caused these mass deaths,” Ryan said in a statement. “A week ago we were assuming they were yet another pack of migrating fish.
“Over the last few days we’ve found dead fish and molluscs and now washed up a huge load of sea creatures. It is unclear what has caused this mass death. Some believe an island of plastic has damaged the sea.”
The incident has caught the attention of British environmental groups, including Greenpeace.
“This mass die-off is being caused by some very extreme weather conditions, but it’s also a wake-up call,” Pia Sarsgaard, spokeswoman for Greenpeace UK, said in a statement.