Unseasonably cold sea temperatures and prevailing easterly winds have been blamed for thousands of lobsters and crabs becoming stranded on the coast between Fraisthorpe and Barmston.
And as statistics show we have experienced the coldest March on record in more than 50 years there are fears that if the weather does not warm up soon more sea creatures could experience the same fate.
A rescue operation was underway last Thursday and Friday after the crustaceans, many of which were pregnant females, washed up on the beach.
A joint rescue operation was launched by the North Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority and the Independent Shellfisherman’s Cooperative with the help of local shellfish merchants and fishermen to ensure the survival of around 500 lobsters. Unfortunately the crabs, which were accompanied by countless dead fish, were unsalvagable.
The surviving lobsters were collected off the beach and stored in fresh water holding tanks on Bridlington’s South Pier, giving them a chance to recuperate, before being relocated back at sea on Tuesday.
Jo Ackers, company secretary of the Independent Shellfisherman’s Cooperative (Bridlington), said the recent high tides, unseasonably cold seas and strong easterly winds had caused the sea creatures to wash up on the shore.
“It was awful to see, the devastation,” Ms Ackers said.
And with lobsters unable to feed when the sea temperatures are too low, and the cold causing them to become lethargic, it is hoped the weather will start to warm up soon to help preserve stocks.
“I would hope that’s the worst of it now but we really need for the weather to warm up because these lobsters don’t eat when the sea is cold.
“With the sea being incredibly cold it puts them in quite a lethargic state, almost like hibernation.
“They are going to be very weak at a time when we would expect them to be waking up and going out to get some food.”
And while many of the lobsters have now been safely returned to sea Ms Ackers said the impact it has had on the shellfish industry might not be felt for a few years yet.
“There have been some pregnant females involved so if it has an impact on the industry it will be in a few years down the line,” Ms Ackers said.
The North Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority have been helping to return the lobsters to the sea around three and a half miles outside of Hornsea.
Ian Davies, assistant chief officer for the Authority’s Offshore team said in the 14 years he had been involved in the industry he had never seen lobsters stranded on shore on this scale.
Last month easterly winds were blamed for dozens of crabs, along with hundreds of mussels, and a few small fish washed up on Bridlington’s North Beach. And Anthony Hurd, of the Living Seas Centre at Flamborough told the Free Press that lobsters had been found during rock pooling sessions which was unusual.
He said: “We never normally see them that far up the shore, it’s quite unusual to do a public rock pooling walk and to find lobsters. I have never seen that in my time.”
The East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s Foreshore Team will be contacted to arrange a clean up of the dead sea creatures.