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Mystery as hundreds of dead crabs wash up near the Orwell Bridge

PUBLISHED: 17:17 31 January 2019 | UPDATED: 08:40 02 February 2019

Hundreds of dead crabs washed up on the shore near the Orwell Bridge Picture: JASON ALEXANDER

Hundreds of dead crabs washed up on the shore near the Orwell Bridge Picture: JASON ALEXANDER

Jason Alexander

An Ipswich man made a worrying discovery when he came across hundreds of dead crabs as he took a lunchtime stroll along the banks of the River Orwell.

Jamie Townshend was enjoying a stroll along the edge of the Orwell Country Park during his lunch break from work, and was near the Orwell Bridge when he came across the huge crabs.

He said: “At first I was concerned there was something in the water that was killing them. I go on family trips crabbing and we have never seen any as big as these.”

As a wildlife enthusiast Jamie was keen to find out what caused the large crabs to die.

Local environmental campaigner Jason Alexander believes the crabs have been dumped on the shore. He said: “ My pictures clearly show that the crabs have been dumped as you can see several piles, some of which are just piles of claws.

What has caused hundreds  of dead crabs to wash up on the shore near the Orwell Bridge? Picture: JASON ALEXANDERWhat has caused hundreds of dead crabs to wash up on the shore near the Orwell Bridge? Picture: JASON ALEXANDER

“You can also spot some of the claws have elastic bands wrapped around them. This clearly indicates that they had been caught and dumped for some reason.”

John White, who has been Harbour master at Felixstowe Ferry for 20 years, said: “This is out of the blue as far as I can see it is not the season for crab fishing.”

Experts and enthusiasts from the Ravenswood Wildlife Group, based on the Ravenswood housing development, have shared their opinions on what happened to the crabs.

Astrid Martin, chairman of the group, said: “We saw the dead crabs last week, In 2011 and 2018 a similar thing happened due to a sudden drop in temperature.

Hundreds of dead crabs washed up on the banks of the River Orwell near the Orwell Bridge Picture: JAMIE TOWNSHENDHundreds of dead crabs washed up on the banks of the River Orwell near the Orwell Bridge Picture: JAMIE TOWNSHEND

“Experts seem to think hypothermia may be the cause. It may also be the natural life cycles of the crabs ending or due to unusually high spring tides.”

Earlier this month there was wide spread coastal flooding as extreme spring tides combined with strong winds along the coast.

Daniel Cable-Davey said: “I have noticed this occurrence over the last few years on the Orwell foreshore. I have always put it down to climate and water temperature and the particular life cycle of crabs which can be fickle and precarious.”

The foreshore is the part of the shore between high and low water marks.

A dead crab washed up on the banks of the River Orwell near the Orwell Bridge Picture: JAMIE TOWNSHENDA dead crab washed up on the banks of the River Orwell near the Orwell Bridge Picture: JAMIE TOWNSHEND

Obi Norton is not convinced the crab deaths are down to the cold weather, he said: “I have no answer for it. I saw a couple of dead crabs on the shore near the Priory golf course about three weeks ago but I never thought it could be the start of a large die off.”

Last year we reported on how cold temperatures during the Beast From the East caused a catastrophe for wildlife on Suffolk’s shores.





















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