Featured Image Credit: The Mercury
You know that feeling when you’re at the beach, sweating uncontrollably, but it’s too early in the season to brave the frigid water? You muster up the courage to jump in, and an instant wave of regret crashes over you. That feeling when all your limbs go numb and you lose your breath for just a moment. Yeah, that feeling.
Unfortunately, for a massive amount of threadfin leatherjackets traveling in the East Australian Current, jumping out of the water and finding warmth on land just wasn’t an option. (Well, it’s never really an option for creatures that need to be underwater to breathe.) Tens of thousands of leatherjackets washed up dead on the coast of Tasmania’s northern waters over recent days.
Threadfin leatherjackets are a primarily tropical species, thriving in the north-western coast of Western Australia, around the tropical north of the country and south to Tasmania. The species have likely perished due to the cold temperatures of the Tasmanian northern waters, marine scientists say. Among the once picture-esque coast lies a graveyard of not only leatherjackets, but also pufferfish, boxfish, sea urchins and even some penguins.
Integrated Marine Observing System experts say that these deaths are a direct result of the dropping temperature of ocean surface water to 7C. Some say another contributing factor is the changing current patterns.
“When the water cools or an upwelling of cold deeper water occurs the tropical species struggles to survive,” said Fisheries Tasmania, the Wildlife branch of the Tasmanian government.
Apparently this is not the first time this has happened. Masses of leatherjackets have washed up on shores in New South Wales and Queensland in recent years around the same time.
Although pollution has not been considered a contribution to these events, any event where fish die in masses is still concerning.