A coastal town on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido was hit by a mass of dead fish last week. It seems to relate mainly to mackerel and sardines. “We have never seen this before,” locals say. Scientists also don’t have an immediate explanation.
A mass of dead fish washed up on the coastal village of Hakodate on December 7. An area of the beach, one kilometer long, was filled with about 1,200 tons of mackerel and sardines. A day earlier, a smaller load of fish weighing about 30 to 40 tons washed up in the town of Nakiri, hundreds of kilometers south.
A local fisherman told a Japanese newspaper: “I have never seen anything like this before.” There are fears that the bodies could disrupt the oxygen levels in the water, causing further damage to the ecosystem. Scientists are now searching for an explanation.
Escaping from dolphins
According to the Hokkaido Research Organization, fish are sometimes said to drift in large numbers due to sudden changes in water temperature, or when escaping from dolphins or other predators. Fisheries experts from the organization said it was believed the fish found on the beach were part of a school moving south at this time of year.
The British newspaper “Daily Mail” indicates that the large fish deaths could be linked to radioactive wastewater from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plant, which was recently discharged into the ocean. However, Japan’s Fisheries Agency claims there is no link between the washed-up fish and the nuclear power plant, and says it is concerned about the spread of such information “that is not based on scientific evidence.”
The Hakodate City Council received dozens of questions from residents about the dead fish. Certainly people were advised not to eat fish.
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