A researcher from the University of British Columbia estimates more than a billion marine animals could have died during the recent extreme heatwave. Marine ecologist Dr.Chris Harley and his team believe that the record-setting temperatures could have had a devastating impact on intertidal animals. These animals include mussels, clams, starfish, and other vertebrae that rely on the tide for transportation.
Intertidal animals become very vulnerable to the heat as they get stranded on the shoreline when the tide recedes. Dr. Harly compares these animals to a “toddler left in a parked car. They are completely at the mercy of the environment while the tide is out.” Furthermore, he said that the hottest day of the heatwave was during a day with particularly low tide.
The dead mussels now cover many shores and the smell of their remains will likely be noticeable, according to the marine ecologist. The doctor and his team came up with the estimate using field samples, temperature logs, and infrared cameras.
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