Likely cause of death of hundreds of crabs in Hartlepool is revealed

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The potential cause of the deaths of hundreds of crabs on Hartlepool shores has been revealed.

The deaths of crabs and lobsters on the North East coast at the end of last year could potentially have resulted from a naturally occurring harmful algal bloom, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and its partnering agencies have confirmed.

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The figure went into the thousands once similar remains were discovered along the Teesside and North Yorkshire coastline.

A picture of a dead crab supplied by Mail reader Carl Clyne.A picture of a dead crab supplied by Mail reader Carl Clyne.
A picture of a dead crab supplied by Mail reader Carl Clyne.

While the chemical pyridine was initially identified in crabs from impacted areas, further investigations by the Environment Agency (EA) established that pyridine was not present in water and surface sediment samples collected off the River Tees and that pyridine is found in crabs taken from non-impacted areas.

Defra has said that the presence of pyridine in crab is likely to be linked to biological processes.

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It has added that a review of dredging activity and water samples also found no evidence of a link between the disposal of dredged sediment and the deaths.

Follow up survey work carried out by the Environment Agency in January has also shown live healthy crabs present in the North East area, albeit in reduced numbers.

The public are encouraged to continue report any incidents of concern to the agency’s helpline on 0800 80 70 60.

Industry is encouraged to contact NE IFCA on (01482) 393515 or [email protected].

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