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article imageRussia’s Kamchatka peninsula focal point of mass marine die-off

By Karen Graham     Oct 11, 2020 in Environment
Kamchatka - A suspected toxic spill along a beach on Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula has killed 95 percent of marine life on the surrounding seabed, local scientists have said, following a weeks-long campaign to investigate the mysterious incident.
In the latter part of September, surfers began reporting stinging eyes and said the water had changed color and developed an odor. Health officials confirmed that eight surfers have been treated for corneal burns, but the local government at first downplayed the reports of smelly and discolored water, according to The Guardian.
But it didn't take but a few days before locals began reporting seeing large numbers of dead marine species including seals, octopuses and sea urchins washed up on a black-sand beach popular with tourists. This was when an investigation was launched and what they found is beyond anybody's imagination.
Greenpeace - Russia
The worst hit areas were between the Avacha Bay in the south and Cape Nalychev in the north, which are 40 kilometers (25 miles) apart. Pictures showed stretches of the Khalaktyrsky Beach, a popular surfing destination, covered in dead octopuses, muscles, crabs, sea urchins and other sea animals, reports ABC News.
At first, the regional governor, Vladimir Solodov, said the marine die off in the remote Kamchatka peninsula may have been contaminated with toxic chemicals. Environmentalists on the Kamchatka government's website suggested that it could be a natural, not man-made disaster.
Greenpeace - Russia
A rocket fuel leak from one of the Defence Ministry's storing facilities in the region was also theorized, but a check of the site showed everything was fine. Another possible source of the contamination could be the Kozelsky dumping ground, where the fencing was found to be breached. However, last week, officials said that no signs of leaking chemicals have been detected.
Other theories were put forth, including one that suggested marine life had been poisoned by a toxin produced by blooming algae. Another theory says the animals could have died because of seismic activity, which is not uncommon in what is one of the world's most volcanic regions.
Greenpeace - Russia
In the meantime, the discolored slick of yellowish water continued to move south, which means it may affect the rest of the territory of the South Kamchatka Natural Park and the South Kamchatka Federal Reserve, and the volcanoes of Kamchatka, which is also included in the World Heritage site List.
The volcanoes of Kamchatka are a large group of volcanoes located on the Kamchatka Peninsula, in eastern Russia. The Kamchatka River and the surrounding central side valley are flanked by large volcanic belts containing around 160 volcanoes, 29 of them still active.
Volcanoes of Kamchatka (Russian Federation)
Volcanoes of Kamchatka (Russian Federation)
Robert Nunn from London, UK (CC BY-SA 2.0)
As of today, there is still no explanation for the source of the massive die-off - although samples of water from the affected areas show phosphate ions are 10.8 times higher than what is acceptable, total iron is 6.7 times higher and total phenol is 2.9 times above acceptable levels.
More about mass marine dieoff, Kamchatka peninsula, Naples toxic waste, Rocket fuel, Ecological disaster
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