Mass Death Of Marine Life Off Hartlepool to Whitby Coastline
Thursday 26th, January 2023
Between October and December 2021 large swathes of dead crabs washed ashore on the coastline from Hartlepool to Whitby. An independent panel has concluded that it was "exceptionally unlikely" that the deaths of thousands of crabs and other marine life was due to dredging.

The event off the coast saw scenes of huge numbers of dead and dying marine life on the beaches between Hartlepool to Whitby.

Academic researchers have suggested that the deaths were caused by industrial pollutant pyridine, possibly from dredging in the mouth of the River Tees to maintain channels for the port traffic.

The independent panel which was made up of academics, industry experts and chaired by the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs' (Defra) chief scientific adviser Gideon Henderson, has found that it was "very unlikely" the cause of death was pyridine or another pollutant.

Researchers from the Environment Agency and York University did not detect pyridine in the seawater, and toxic chemicals found in the River Tees were "significantly lower" than what would cause crab mortality, the panel said.

The panel instead concluded it was "about as likely as not" that a pathogen, a potential disease or parasite which is new to UK waters had caused the crab deaths.

In a statement, the panel said, "Although there is no direct evidence of a novel pathogen, it would explain the key observations including mortality over a sustained period and along 70km of coastline, the unusual twitching of dying crabs and the deaths being predominantly crabs rather than other species.".

"It is also possible that a combination of factors lead to the unusual mortality, rather than one of the factors the panel considered."

However, the new report also found this was "unlikely".

Dead and dying marine life have been washing up on beaches around Teesside for almost a year since the autumn 2021 deaths, according to official documents and eyewitness reports seen by Sky News.

Dr Gary Caldwell, a marine biologist at the University of Newcastle, said, "There have been ongoing die-offs.".
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