NEWS

Nova Scotia Herring-Killing Phenomenon Spreads To New Species

12/28/2016 11:59 EST | Updated 12/28/2016 11:59 EST
PLYMPTON, N.S. — Massive numbers of dead starfish, clams, lobsters and mussels have washed up on a beach in western Nova Scotia, compounding the mysterious deaths of tens of thousands of herring in the area.

Ted Leighton, an adjunct biology professor at Nova Scotia's University of Sainte-Anne, said social media photos showing bottom-dwellers strewn in the sand near Plympton, N.S., could be an indication that the phenomenon that has killed schools of herring in St. Marys Bay is possibly spreading to new species.

The retired veterinary pathologist, who has compiled more than 40 sightings of dead herring, says the new ocean-dwellers' deaths show it's time for experts to get to the bottom of "what's really going on."

Leighton says without firm information about what's killing the herring, it's hard to know whether new species could be vulnerable to the same forces.

He says some inferences can be made based on the broad swath of species that were swept ashore in the latest "pulse" of deaths.

Leighton says the only trait the fish share is where they live — the bottom of St. Marys Bay — so the answer may lie near the seabed.

He says a lethal lack of oxygen or toxic water contamination could wipe out all marine life in a habitat.

But Leighton says with only one data point, it's hard to know if the events are even connected.

Also on HuffPost

  • Woodpecker Attacked by Weasel
    Ripley's Believe It Or Not
    No, the woodpecker is not giving this weasel a ride. The weasel is actually attacking the bird at Hornchurch Country Park in East London. The bird eventually landed on the ground, causing the weasel to fall off.
  • Cat with Alien Eyes
    Ripley's Believe It Or Not!
    Matilida is a two-year-old tabby cat in Canada, who has huge glassy eyes because of a genetic condition called spontaneous lens luxation, which causes the the lens of the eyes to dislocate from their normal position. Other than having problem seeing, she is healthy and also has a healthy Instagram following.
  • Sheep Dung Spitting
    Ripley's Believe It Or Not!
    It takes a good sport to participate in the Sheep Dung Spitting contest held annually in Irvinestown, Ireland. Poop-eating participants put sheep dung into their mouths and see who can spit it the furthest. The record is 29.5 feet.
  • Totally Sweet! Count Chocula Portrait
    Ripley's Believe It Or Not!
    Detroit-based artist Eric Millikin needed 1,000 miniature bags of M&Ms in order to make this portrait of kiddie cereal icon Count Chocula. Millikin has also made candy portraits of Freddy Krueger, Frankenstein's monster and Jason from the "Friday The 13th" movies.
  • Lotus Building
    Ripley's Believe It Or Not!
    The "Lotus Building" in Wujin, China, not only looks like a flower, but it also opens and shuts like a real one in order to be as energy efficient as possible.
  • Hazmat Surfing
    Ripley's Believe It Or Not!
    Photographer Michael Dyrland created a "Hazmat Surfing" photo series after friends warned him of runoff contamination during a trip to Los Angeles.
  • Dai Andrews
    Ripley's Believe It Or Not!
    Magician Dai Andrews is able to break boards with his hands despite suffering a chronic degenerative condition that causes tremors.
  • 20 Penny Circus
    Ripley's Believe It Or Not!
    Tyler Sutter and Carl Skenes of the sideshow duo 20 Penny Circus are able to breathe fire, but their craziest stunt may be playing Russian roulette with nail guns.
  • Unlock the Weird
    Ripley's Believe It Or Not!