Jamaica: Large numbers of sea creatures crawled out of the water onto the shore and died

Heavy rains that hit Jamaica on August 17 prevented the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) from investigating a report that young fish, lobsters, crabs, sea cucumbers and other sea creatures werehed ashore on Hellshire Beach in St. Catharines.

When The Gleaner crew arrived on the scene, alarmed fishermen pointed out areas of the beach where young fish were dead or dying, and crabs and lobsters were crawling out of the sea to die on shore. Concerned about the threat of losing the fishery, which is their only livelihood, the fishermen not understanding what was causing the fish to die sought help to get answers.

“Something in the water is killing everything and the water stinks! We need NEPA to come here and investigate,” said one of the fishermen. That didn’t happen, however, because the island was already experiencing heavy rains associated with Tropical Storm Grace, and the agency didn’t see fit to send its staff.

Instead, it turned to another agency closer to the beach whose staff were equally competent in marine science. That option didn’t pan out, however, because by then weather conditions had worsened and a hurricane warning had been issued for the island.

Public Education and Corporate Communications Manager Ollivia Anderson told The Gleaner newspaper Friday that, given the intensity of the rainfall, the evidence would likely have already been washed out to sea.

But fishermen were concerned that something in the water was actually harming marine life, causing it to flee to shore. They cited the number of young lobsters, as well as crabs that crawled out of the water to die, and the number of dead sea cucumbers that floated to the surface.

They also mentioned a mature octopus found near the shore that was easy to catch by hand because it was in an obviously weakened state.

The fishermen described as mysterious the behavior of velkos, sea clams that were seen in large numbers on the rocks. They stated that the velkies usually come to the surface at night, not during the day, as happened. According to them, this is clear evidence that something in the water is harming sea creatures and changing their behavior.

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