Washed up on shore

Vi­cious late fall storm de­posits thou­sands of sea crea­tures and stones on P.E.I.’s north shore

Journal Pioneer - - NEWS - BY DAVE STE­WART

Thou­sands of shell­fish have washed up on shore on Robin­son’s Is­land in P.E.I.’s Na­tional Park.

The is­land is lo­cated just west of Brack­ley Beach. Im­ages of the car­nage quickly made the rounds on so­cial me­dia, show­ing dead crabs, qua­hogs, clams and lob­sters on shore in ad­di­tion to rocks dragged in by the vi­o­lent ocean waves.

Former Guardian pho­tog­ra­pher Brian McIn­nis, who now works as a free­lancer, spot­ted the pic­tures on Face­book and quickly made his way out to Robin­son’s Is­land. He was shocked by what he saw.

“It never crossed my mind that there would be this much dam­age,’’ McIn­nis said. “I got to the beach and was as­tounded as to the num­ber of fair-sized stones . . . . and shell­fish . . . that were thrown up.’’

McIn­nis said there was also quite a bit of dam­age done on land.

“You can see where the waves came up over the banks and into the woods. That was a re­ally bad storm. There’s hik­ing trails on Robin­son’s Is­land and there were trees down all over the place.’’

Robert MacMil­lan, a lob­ster bi­ol­o­gist with the P.E.I. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries, said it is a nat­u­ral­ly­oc­cur­ring phe­nom­e­non. “Typ­i­cally, it hap­pens more fre­quently in the fall of the year when you’ve got wa­ter start­ing to cool down and be­com­ing more dense,’’ MacMil­lan said, adding that the high winds as­so­ci­ated with these storms cre­ate big waves where lob­sters and other in­ver­te­brates can be picked up by swells and thrown on shore.

“Some of those an­i­mals might be killed by im­pact and oth­ers may be bro­ken into pieces and some of them are just stranded up out of the wa­ter and can’t re­turn.’’

MacMil­lan isn’t sure how big the lob­sters were but, judg­ing by pic­tures he’s seen, most were smaller than le­gal size. MacMil­lan also noted this type of fish kill shouldn’t af­fect the fish­ery.

“There are nat­u­ral mor­tal­i­ties in the pop­u­la­tion. I don’t ex­pect you’ll see any lo­cal ef­fect.

“We’re at a very high level of lob­ster pop­u­la­tion now, his­tor­i­cally, and our mon­i­tor­ing that we do among the com­mer­cial fish­eries shows very high num­bers of le­gal-sized an­i­mals, so the pop­u­la­tion of the an­i­mals is at a very high level.’’

The Depart­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans added that it is il­le­gal to har­vest lob­sters that have been washed ashore as a re­sult of a storm surge.

“Un­der reg­u­la­tion . . . no per­son shall fish for lob­ster ex­cept from a ves­sel and with a lob­ster trap,’’ the DFO said in a writ­ten state­ment emailed to The Guardian. “This con­ser­va­tion mea­sure is in­tended to pro­tect the lob­ster biomass as well as the com­mer­cial lob­ster fish­ing in­dus­try.’’

BRIAN MCIN­NIS/SPE­CIAL TO SALTWIRE NET­WORK

Thou­sands of shell­fish are shown washed up on shore at Robin­son’s Is­land in the P.E.I. Na­tional Park after last week’s storm. A lob­ster ex­pert said these storms typ­i­cally hap­pen dur­ing the fall and that it won’t af­fect the over­all lob­ster pop­u­la­tion.

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