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The head of the Kamchatka Territory, Vladimir Solodov, announced on Monday about the mass death of marine animals on two more sections of the coast. The main reason for the death of marine animals in Kamchatka is not technogenic, but natural, the Russian Academy of Sciences said on Monday. Rosprirodnadzor also believes that the excess for a number of pollutants found in water samples from Avacha Bay could hardly lead to corneal burns in surfers and mass death of marine animals. Greenpeace Russia said they could not refute any of the versions. At the same time, ecologists suggested that the activity of toxic algae, in which Russian scientists see the probable cause of what happened, in turn, could be provoked by a technogenic factor. Kamchatka authorities do not plan to abandon the version of technogenic pollution of the peninsula’s water area yet.
“Today we received data from an expedition vessel, which is moving towards Cape Lopatka, that the massive fall of hydrobionts, which we saw at a depth of 5-10 m in the Avacha Bay area, is observed to the south,” Governor Vladimir Solodov said in Monday in a video comment posted on a social network. According to him, video evidence was also obtained “from eyewitnesses from the Okhotsk coast on the eastern coast of Kamchatka, where there is also a massive release of aquatic organisms and fish.” According to the governor, the phenomenon was noted on a site about 50 meters wide, the neighboring beaches, according to eyewitnesses, are clean. The new data, according to the governor, make it possible to exclude the version that the source of pollution was a local technogenic object in the Petropavlovsk region: “We are faced with a large-scale new phenomenon that science has yet to comprehend. It is almost certainly associated in one way or another with human activities, climate change, the polluting effects on the world’s oceans that we – humanity – have. ” Mr. Solodov turned to the federal government with a proposal to initiate a comprehensive scientific project to study the phenomenon.
According to him, experts analyzed the water for the presence of various toxins: “High concentrations were observed only for representatives of the genus Gymnodinium: they are responsible for the production of a fairly large amount of different toxins. What is interesting is precisely the toxins that act on invertebrates. ” We will remind that earlier the same version was called by the main director of the Institute of Volcanology and Seismology of the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexey Ozerov.
The water pollution on Khalaktyrsky beach became known at the end of September: photos of hundreds of dead sea animals washed ashore were published on social networks. At the same time, local residents began to complain about changes in the color and smell of the water in early September. After being in the ocean, some had a sore throat and watery eyes, dozens of victims were diagnosed with a “chemical burn of the first degree.” Greenpeace Russia called the incident an “environmental disaster.” After diving to the bottom of Avacha Bay, specialists from the nearby Kronotsky Nature Reserve said that pollution led to the death of 95% of benthos (marine organisms living on the bottom). Last week, the TFR opened a criminal case under two articles at once – on violation of the rules for the circulation of environmentally hazardous substances and pollution of the marine environment.
At the end of the week, Rosprirodnadzor published the results of water samples in the rivers flowing into Avacha Bay, which showed that the maximum permissible concentrations of iron, phenol and phosphates were exceeded by 2.2-10.8 times. Then the scientists interviewed by Kommersant doubted that this could provoke the death of marine life. On Monday, the head of Rosprirodnadzor, Svetlana Radionova, also said that the agency does not yet see the man-made causes of water pollution in Kamchatka. The excess of pollutants in the samples, in her opinion, cannot lead to such consequences.
To the vice-rector of the Far Eastern Federal University Dmitry Zemtsov, the version with microalgae also seems to be “the most convincing”: “With intensive algal bloom, the oxygen content in the water decreases, and they themselves produce toxins that cause the described phenomena.” According to him, a toxin produced during the flowering of certain microalgae was found in the samples collected by scientists. According to Mr. Zemtsov, several questions remain open: which types of algae and which types of toxins led to the death of animals, were the causes of the “harmful bloom” natural or man-made, and, finally, can such natural phenomena be controlled.
“We cannot refute any of the existing versions, the version with algae is being tested by our team on the spot and by those who work in the laboratory,” Greenpeace Russia expert Elena Sakirko told Kommersant. “The scale of the defeat is very large. If we talk about algae, their activity could also be provoked by a technogenic factor; it could be some kind of joint effect. ” Associate Professor at the Institute of Environmental Management and Territorial Urban Planning of the Baltic Federal University I. Kant Oleg Bass doubts that algae could be the cause of what happened: “If they really poisoned the benthos, their presence would be hard not to notice: although they are micro, they form biomass in large quantities.” Mr. Zemtsov states that his colleagues saw the foam typical of microalgae bloom when flying around the affected area on 8 October.
Another expert notes that the “red tides” that form dinophytic algae are quite common. However, their “blooming” is characterized by higher water temperatures – above 10 degrees, as it is now in the middle of autumn, says Boris Morgunov, director of the Institute of Ecology of the Higher School of Economics: “The data of eyewitnesses indicate a violation of the skin of animals, which indicates signs of toxic poisoning, and not death from oxygen depletion of water. It is possible that the negative synergy of natural and anthropogenic factors played a role here. ”
On Monday, the press service of the regional government reported that the region continues to check possible sources of technogenic pollution, despite the fact that the version of the natural cause has become a priority: “If we accept this version, it is necessary to find out whether anthropogenic factors could have provoked the release of toxins,” stated in the press service.
Anna Vasilieva

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