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Something Strange Is Killing a Whole Bunch of Sea Creatures In Canada

Something weird is happening.
Image: Flickr/Wazimu0

Nothing connects the crustacean victims except for their stomping grounds.

It sounds like the set-up for a perfect crime, except nobody can say for certain if it's a murder spree, or some kind of natural killing floor, or something else entirely.

In November, thousands of dead and dying herring began washing up on the shores of southwest Nova Scotia near Digby county. Researchers conducted tests for viruses and bacteria, but found nothing. On Monday, things got worse. The tides brought in the corpses of lobsters, crabs, starfish, and even more herring.

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Normally, you'd expect a particular sickness to affect only one species of marine life, retired veterinary pathologist Ted Leighton told the CBC. Whatever this is, it seems almost indiscriminate.

"What we know is that around one spot a large number of species that aren't closely connected are all dead," Leighton told the Chronicle Herald in an interview. "But almost all are invertebrates living at the bottom of the ocean, a habitat they share."

Observers have speculated that the cause of the mass deaths might be the gigantic underwater turbine that was installed in the nearby Bay of Fundy in November. The goal is to harvest the power of the bay's legendary tides to generate electricity. The risk of harm to local wildlife was so concerning that local fishers took their case to court in an attempt to halt construction. They lost.

But the Chronicle Herald notes that the turbine is a good 100 kilometres away from the sites where marine life has been washing up, and they're not showing any signs of being chewed up by the turbine's massive rotors. Researchers, including Leighton, are also urging caution in jumping to conclusions about the cause of the deaths.

Until scientists can determine what's going on in Nova Scotia, it's another marine mystery in a country that's starting to eerily resemble an episode of the X-Files.

Update: The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has analyzed the water and the bottom of the bay near where the creatures have been washing up and found no evidence of anything causing the deaths, the CBC reported on Friday. The mystery deepens.

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