A beach visit this week. We were feeling full of life, warmed by the sun and the sparkling blue sky. When we arrived, we discovered the tide was incredibly low and the beach was completely covered with Jellyfish – for at least a mile it was thick with dead jellies. We also found many dead and dying Northern Fulmar. There has been some concern about a possible dead zone here, after a recent finding of hundreds of dead starfish on the beach, so I called the Department of Fish and Wildlife. They are not sure of anything at this point, but there is a lot of interest in the localized phenomena and they are “watching.”
After a bit of research on my own part, I discovered it is not unheard of to have large wash-ups of starfish after big storms, but this seemed so extreme to me and the timing with the other deaths of animals made it all the more noteworthy. As we walked the beach, amongst all these dead things, watching the plovers run along the shoreline in search of food (they are so amazing!), I couldn’t help but think about the recent massive oil leak. Seeing all these dead and dying animals really affected me. As we drove home that evening I felt a bodily sadness. I love the ocean and all that it sustains in a way that is indescribable. To know that it is suffering is painful.