Massive shellfish mortality in Galicia due to high seawater temperatures

by Lorraine Williamson
dead shellfish

O GROVE – Hundreds of dead longueirón and coquina shellfish were found on the beach of A Lanzada in the Galician province of Pontevedra in the past month. Research indicates that high seawater temperatures are the cause. 

This conclusion was reached after analysis of post-death samples by the Technological Institute for Environmental Control of Galicia (Intecmar). “The results of the samples taken indicate that no pathogens have been found that caused this mass death,” the report said. 

Furthermore, the research shows the shellfish died due to an unusually high surface temperature of the seawater, which was around 20 degrees Celsius. 

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Following this incident, two more similar cases have been reported. About fifteen days ago dead longueirón and almeja shellfish were also found on the beach of A Canteira in A Illa de Arousa (Pontevedra). “I am 54 years old and have worked as a shellfish catcher since I was 14, and I have never seen anything like it,” Inmaculada Rodríguez, president of the Organisation of Shellfish Producers and Nurseries of the Province of Pontevedra (OPP-20) told the NIUS newspaper. 

Three to four degrees warmer than normal 

Earlier this week, a similar situation was observed again on A Lanzada beach, but now on the opposite side of the beach where it was first observed. Local shellfish collectors indicate that the surface temperature of the seawater is usually between 16 and 17 degrees at this time of year, but this year it has even exceeded 20 degrees. 

Also read: Surface water of the sea in Spain 3 to 4 degrees above normal 

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