About 500,000 dead mussels were spotted on the shores of a beach in New Zealand by a local resident. Experts believe the marine animals were cooked alive by the increasing temperature of the country's oceans. The dead mussels were spotted by resident Brandon Ferguson of New Zealand's North Island. He reported the incident by sharing a video on his Facebook page.

Mass Die-Off Of Mussels

Mussels
Mussels on a beach Pixabay

According to Ferguson, he was walking along the shore of Maunganui Bluff Beach to collect mussels. He then came across thousands of mussel shells littered across the shore and in between rocks. He estimated that there were around 500,000 mussels in the area. Most of them were already dead while some were floating near the shore.

"It smelled like dead rotting seafood," Ferguson told Business Insider. "Some of the mussels were empty, some of them were dead ... Some were just floating around in the tide. There were well over 500,000 mussels and shells littering the coastline."

MPA
These are fish swimming along rocky reefs at Cabo Pulmo National Park Octavio Aburto, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego

New Zealand's Rising Ocean Temperatures

Ferguson speculated that the rising temperatures in the ocean might have caused the massive die-offs of the mussels. He said that this isn't the first time that he spotted thousands of dead marine animals littering the coastline.

Ferguson's theory is supported by an ongoing report that measures the sea-surface temperatures in New Zealand. According to the report, the temperature of the oceans surrounding the country has been increasing by 0.1 to 0.2 degrees Celsius every decade since 1981.

Heat Stress Triggered By Global Warming

Based on the video Ferguson shared, marine scientist Andrew Jeffs of the University of Auckland said that the mussels might have died due to a condition known as heat stress, which could be triggered by mid-day low tides and hot weather.

"The mussels die of heat stress. You imagine lying in the midday sun every day for four hours for the best part of a week. You'd be pretty sunburnt at the end of that," he told the New Zealand Herald. Jeffs warned that if the temperatures if New Zealand's oceans continue to increase, mussels and molluscs could soon disappear completely from the country.