March 22, 2013
Millions Of Prawns Wash Up On Beach
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
A beach in southern Chile is being overwhelmed by millions of stranded prawns that have taken up two miles worth of the coastline.
According to a report by AFP, millions of the small prawns are covering a beach 300 miles south of Santiago, creating giant "red spots" on the sand.
Fisherman said at first the red spots appeared just off the shore, but by Tuesday of this week the prawns had moved to land, and "millions" were stranded on the beach.
"I've been a fisherman 39 years and have never seen anything like it before," fishermen union president Juan Gutierrez told AFP.
He said there are even more prawns gathering near the shoreline, indicating another mass stranding is about to take place.
Local police have taken samples and are investigating the cause of the phenomenon, and they said they would be looking to see whether there were any elements in the shrimp that would explain the mass stranding.
"We're going to be collecting as much evidence as possible to determine if this is an environmental crime," Ana Maria Aldana, a Chilean prosecutor for environmental crimes, told state television.
Some say ocean currents are to blame, while others say a local, coal-fired thermoelectric plant may be the culprit. Chile imports 97 percent of its fossil fuels and depends on hydropower for electricity. Some analysts believe the country must triple its capacity in 15 years, despite having no domestic oil or natural gas.
Experts are looking into water temperature and oxygen levels in the area to help explain the strange beaching.
"We're investigating the Coronel Bay to establish the physical parameters of temperature, electric conductivity and, above all, the oxygen," local environment official Victor Casanova told the BBC.
Animals can often become stranded on beaches, and a lot of times it is difficult to determine what causes it. In December last year, a 60-foot-long endangered whale was found stranded along a New York City beach. Officials tried recovering the finback whale, but were unable to save it in time.
In 2005, 34 pilot whales were beached along a five-mile stretch of coastline near Oregon Inlet in North Carolina. All of the whales died. Some naturally, while the others were euthanized to keep the large ocean-dwelling mammals from suffering.