An Estimated 1 Billion Sea Creatures Cooked to Death in the Pacific Northwest Heat Wave

Home Technology An Estimated 1 Billion Sea Creatures Cooked to Death in the Pacific Northwest Heat Wave
An Estimated 1 Billion Sea Creatures Cooked to Death in the Pacific Northwest Heat Wave
A view of dead mollusks in Conchagua, El Salvador, on November 19, 2019
A view of dead mollusks in Conchagua, El Salvador, on November 19, 2019. A similar scene played out in British Columbia this past week.
Photo: Marvin Recinos/AFP (Getty Images)

There’s bad news for crustacean lovers. Some researchers are estimating that more than 1 billion sea creatures—including clams, mussels, barnacles, and snails—basically cooked to death during the record Pacific Northwest heat wave.

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Chris Harley, a marine biologist at the University of British Columbia, told the CBC that he was “pretty stunned” walking along Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach late last month, where was able to smell the mass death and see endless amounts of mussels cracked open with meat inside—which indicates they had recently died.

The incredibly hot temperatures in Vancouver and some poor timing with the tides seem to have combined to create an incredibly sad situation for the region’s crustaceans. During the heatwave in late June, when temperatures reached 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) in Vancouver, Harley’s lab recorded temperatures up to 122 degrees F (50 degrees Celsius) along the shoreline using a thermal imaging camera. Crustaceans like mussels and clams were then exposed to these crazy high temperatures for more than six hours when the tide went out.

“A mussel on the shore in some ways is like a toddler left in a car on a hot day,” Harley told the CBC. “They are stuck there until the parent comes back, or in this case, the tide comes back in, and there’s very little they can do. They’re at the mercy of the environment. And on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, during the heat wave, it just got so hot that the mussels, there was nothing they could do.”