Half a million mussels 'cooked to death' on a New Zealand beach

A staggering video has emerged of thousands upon thousands of mussels dead on a beach in New Zealand.

The creatures usually found clinging to rocks littered the ground as they were cooked to death by rising temperatures.

While experts have said this trend will continue due to climate change, local residents have simply labelled the event as ‘heartbreaking’.

Dr Andrew Jeffs, a marine scientist from the University of Auckland, said the mass deaths were caused by low tides in the middle of the day combined with ‘an exceptional period of warm weather’.

The dead molluscs were found by Auckland man Brandon Ferguson earlier this month at Maunganui Bluff Beach, near the northern tip of the North Island. He posted a video to Facebook which has since gone viral.

In the video a stunned Ferguson is wading through rockpools choked almost knee-deep with mussel shells remarking ‘they’re all dead… there’s nothing left’.

Professor Chris Battershill, a marine ecologist at Waikato University, said there had been similar die-off in recent years involving tuatua cockles and clams.

‘The common denominators seem to be really hot conditions with lots of sunlight and unusually calm waters for an extended period,’ he told the AFP news agency.

‘This leads to a combination of heat stress and the animals running out of oxygen because the water’s so still. They eventually succumb… they’re effectively cooked alive.’

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