‘Red tide’ likely cause of marine disaster in Russia’s Far East, but global eco-groups invited to join probe – governor to RT

All environmental groups are welcome to participate in the investigation into the mass death of sea animals in Russia’s Far East, the regional governor told RT. He said that no evidence of pollution had been found so far, however.

Kamchatka Governor Vladimir Solodov told RT’s Maria Finoshina that authorities can now “say for sure” that the mass death of sea animals occurred because of the so-called red tide – a natural phenomenon that occurs when algal bloom leads to the depletion of oxygen in the water.

Earlier this month, shocked beachgoers discovered that thousands of octopuses, crabs, starfish, and other animals had been washed ashore at the pristine Avacha Bay. This happened after local surfers had complained about eye burns and dizziness when diving into the ocean. Overall, around 95 percent of animal life on the seabed had perished, officials said. Greenpeace called the event an “environmental disaster.”

Suspicion was immediately drawn to a pesticide landfill and a military training ground nearby. However, the authorities conducted “hundreds” of tests and “couldn’t identify the poisonous substance,” Solodov explained. Officials inspected all the potentially hazardous sites near the ocean, “but found nothing.” Several days later, the algal bloom became the “dominant version” of events, the governor said.

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Solodov admitted that, to him, just as to some skeptics, the idea that hordes of animals had suddenly died from a red tide sounded “like a joke” at first, but he now believes “serious scientists who say it’s not a unique phenomenon.” Similar incident have happened in Kamchatka in the past, although it is not yet clear why the red tide effect occurred this month.

“For the past 10 to 15 years, we’ve never faced such an impressive death of our marine life,” he said, citing this year’s exceptionally warm summer in Russia as a possible explanation.

“We are very grateful for the deep concern of the scientific [community] and ecological activists all over the world,” Solodov stated, extending an invitation to all environmental groups, including foreign ones, to participate in the investigation. 

I have written several letters to our international colleagues, the researchers and scientists at the best universities in Tokyo, in Beijing, at MIT Boston, at the California Institute of Technology. We’ve already had some discussion with them.

The governor said the authorities must now “do all that we can to make Kamchatka the purest and the most ecologically safe place on Earth.”

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