‘Amber’ alert at beach
A Christchurch beach has taken on a striking bright orange tinge after millions of tiny marine creatures washed ashore.
Resident Moreen Sackree was at Southshore Beach in South New Brighton about 10am on Tuesday when she came across what she believed were millions of ‘‘little krill or squat lobsters’’.
‘‘I came across an orange beach – something I have never seen [before].’’
Sackree said many of the marine creatures appeared to be dead.
Another beach-goer, Eve Driver, said when she came across the swarmabout 6pm on Tuesday, none were alive and many had been buried under the sand.
Marine ecologist John Pirker, from the University of Canterbury, said the tiny creatures appeared to be gregarious squat lobster – a small crustacean that feeds on the ocean floor.
Squat lobsters generally move in swarms along the eastern coast of the South Island. They swam inshore to breed after completing their ‘‘larval cycle’’ and settled in shallow waters – usually between October and May.