Experts suggest that a new disease has caused the death of crabs, English lobsters and marine life

The mystery behind the deaths of thousands of crabs and lobsters along England’s north-east coast has evolved, with experts saying it could be due to a new disease.

The deaths, which began in the fall of 2021 and recurred at various points in 2022, affected at least 70 kilometers (43 miles) of coastline, with some crustaceans showing unusual twitching while dying.

A preliminary government investigation, published in May 2021, said the phenomenon may be caused by naturally occurring harmful algal blooms. However, research by the North Eastern Hunting Group (NEFC) and by researchers at the Universities of York, Newcastle, Durham and Hull suggested that pyridine, a common industrial chemical, was a more likely culprit.

Now, a report by an independent panel of experts, convened by the Department of Environment, Agriculture and Rural Affairs’ Chief Scientific Adviser, states that while it was not possible to “identify a single clear and convincing cause for the unusual crustacean mortality” it was unlikely that algal blooms could be blamed, since from It is unlikely to explain the tingling or death during the winter months.

The team also added that it is very unlikely that the deaths were the result of pyridine or another toxic pollutant.

Crispin Halsall, professor of environmental organic chemistry at Lancaster University and author of the report, said the team had carefully checked the results from Newcastle University and other sources – although it had not collected or analyzed new samples.

“What the panel and my group concluded was that we could not find evidence of high levels of pyridine in coastal seawater at levels, which would cause acute toxicity to crabs,” he said.

The report suggested that a prolonged and massive release of a toxic chemical would be necessary to cause significant deaths, which Halsall said was not the case, adding that the paper put “the pyridine story to bed.”

Another suggested reason, is shoveling capital onto the teesAnd It was exceptionally unlikely to be the cause of the deaths.

However, the report suggested another possibility: the deaths could be traced back to a new pathogen, a cause seen as “likely and not” — but they stress that there is a lack of direct evidence for this pathogen.

It’s possible, the report added, that several of the stressors considered worked together to drive death, a point reiterated by Dr. Tammy Horton, a National Oceanographic Center research scientist and co-author.

“For example, if there is a harmful algal bloom, which would have put more stress on the environment in general, there might be a slight decrease in oxygen as a result, and that could lead to mass mortality because they are less able to adapt with their viral load.” , for example, from this potential new pathogen.”

The report was met with criticism from academics from the Universities of York, Newcastle and Durham.

“Given that the weight of evidence points to an industrial source for the deaths, it is disappointing to see that the Independent Expert Panel has reached the conclusion that the deaths may have been caused by an unknown pathogen, despite the lack of direct evidence for this. They said in a statement that the academic team will continue to conduct research into these events.

Joe Redfern, secretary of the Whitby Fishing Trade Association, said he and the NEFC were surprised and disappointed by the report’s conclusions.

“Sivas [Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science] It has already been checked [for] Many local and international diseases. There is only one known pathogen known to jump from one species to another and it has been tested.

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