Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Someone get the cocktail sauce!

We've got A LOT of prawns to eat!

prawn-filled beach in Coronel, Chile

Just kidding. A tide of death has swept Chilean beaches, covering them with thousands of dead prawns and hundreds of dead crabs. Local fishermen are quick to point their fingers at the power plants nearby, which use seawater as a coolant, but an actual cause is not yet known. Researchers are looking into water temperatures and oxygen levels: there may have been an area of hypoxia that was too large for the critters to escape (hypoxia = low oxygen = hard to breath!).

poor little crustaceans

This isn't the first time we've seen a wave of dead crabs wash ashore. Remember the megalopae in Phuket? They may have washed ashore due to hypoxic conditions. And the devil crabs on the Thanet Coast, UK? They may have suffered from a sudden drop in water temperature (although scientists also initially considered bitter crab disease as the culprit). Hopefully Chilean researchers will get to the bottom of their prawn/crab die-off for, if nothing else, the peace of mind of the fishermen. Do you have any theories?

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