Thousands of dead birds, sea creatures and even a few seals wash up on region’s coast after Beast from the East
- Credit: PAUL MYNORS
Catastrophe has hit the region’s coastline with the fallout of the big freeze culling thousands of birds, scores of sea creatures and even a few seals.
Warning: Some people may find the images in this article distressing
Thousands of starfish, crabs, fish and sea birds have washed up dead in the wake of the Beast from the East – and experts are warning this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Shocking photographs revealing the sheer scale of the deaths on Suffolk and Essex beaches have emerged – with witnesses likening shorelines to graveyards.
Wildlife specialists believe last week’s arctic blast froze food supplies for several species of sea bird and they flew to England to escape – only to find the Beast had followed them.
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Suffolk-based naturalist Steve Piotrowski said: “It’s a pretty drastic scene for wildlife and this is only the tip of the iceberg.
“You’re seeing so many corpses of these birds, it’s like a graveyard in a way. “What’s happened is that when the Beast came along it came all the way from Siberia.
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“All the places the birds were usually able to feed from would have frozen and they flew here to try and escape, but it followed them.
“I would say there were easily thousands of woodcock when we went down to beaches at Dunwich and Sizewell, a lot of them went into the sea and drowned and others have been starved or washed up.
He added: “We’ve also been up to Kessingland.
“There were quite a few kittiwakes, they were young birds in their first year, a few rare birds as well like red-necked grebes, Jack snipe and common snipe. You’ve also got thrushes, starlings and teal.”
Scores of starfish, crabs, eels and fish washed up at Felixstowe, Walton-on-the-Naze and Frinton-on-Sea – Essex photographer Paul Mynors captured the shocking scenes on camera.
He said: “The scale of it was unbelievable and very sad.
“Nature can sometimes be so cruel.”
Experts believe sea temperatures plummeted to 3C in the severe weather, making waters uninhabitable for certain species of marine creatures.
Daniel Goldsmith, who runs the Marine and Wildlife Rescue centre on the Suffolk and Norfolk coast, said seals were also affected by the cold snap.
He added: “There has been an increase in seals washing up on beaches as a result of the recent severe weather.
“But it’s not been horrendous like it has with the sea birds.”
Why have sea creatures washed ashore?
Oceanographers based in Suffolk believe higher-than-usual waves brought on by the Beast from the East resulted in many east facing beaches being stripped of sediment.
Extremely low water temperatures – of approximately 3.2C compared with the normal winter minimum of 5C to 7C – also caused several species of starfish, crabs and lobsters to die.
They were then driven ashore by the severe weather conditions.
Jon Rees, principal physical oceanographer at Cefas based in Pakefield near Lowestoft, said: “In terms of oceanographic conditions, the Beast from the East resulted in waves of over 4.5m significant wave height being recorded at the Lowestoft Wave buoy.
“This resulted in many east facing beaches being stripped of sediment.
“Simultaneously, the extremely low water temperatures of approximately 3.2C led to the deaths of benthic creatures.”