Celebrities weren’t the only living things dying off in great numbers in 2016. Scores of animal die-offs also occurred in 2016, many of which remain unexplained. From “rivers in the sky” wiping out entire populations of oysters in California to the mysterious deaths of horseshoe crabs in Japan, it’s clear that something is fishy in the world’s oceans - and not the good kind of fishy. These animal die-offs are worrying ecologists, some of whom fear the Earth has past an ecological tipping-point from which the world’s biodiversity will never recover.

Sign of the times.

In the latest mysterious animal die-off news, scores of dead sea creatures have washed up on beaches in Nova Scotia, Canada. According to CBC News, thousands of herring have been found dead on shores alongside starfish, shellfish and one dead whale. Residents have reported witnessing waves made up entirely of dead herring and lobsters.

The creatures appear otherwise normal - apart from the whole being dead thing, that is.

So far, marine ecologists have been unable to identify a cause for the massive loss in marine life. A number of theories have been put forward, including industrial run-off, disturbances in tidal or temperature patterns, or even bacterial diseases. However, tests for bacteria have so far come back with inconclusive results and no unusual oceanographic activity has been observed.

The dead sea creatures have been found along Nova Scotian shores.

Despite the unnerving nature of these unexplained deaths, Kent Smedbol, manager of population ecology for Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans, believes there’s nothing to see here, folks:

I can’t speak for the department, personally at this point from most of the studies that have been undertaken, the evidence provided to date, I don’t think there’s a great cause for concern.

If only we could all be so optimistic. I don't care what anyone says - that damned glass is definitely half-empty. These fish deaths are made even more mysterious by the fact that the oceans around Canada’s east coast have been the site of other mysterious happenings in recent months, such as the discovery of an unexplained pinging noise on the ocean floor near the Canadian arctic. Could these events be related? Is some sort of unknown object causing these fish die-offs? For now, this one remains a mystery.

Brett Tingley

Brett Tingley is a writer and musician living in the ancient Appalachian mountains.

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