Mystery pollution kills 95% of sea life off coast as divers get chemical burns

A suspected toxic spill has killed 95% of sea life off a section of the Russian coast.

Dead octopuses, sea urchins and crabs washed up on the Kamchatka Peninsula’s Khalaktyrsky beach in the far east of Russia over the weekend.

Pollution was first reported by surfers, who suffered eyesight problems and chemical burns after getting into the water last month.

Kamchatka governor Vladimir Solodov said that authorities were considering manmade pollution, natural phenomena or a volcano-related earthquake as causes.

Russia’s Investigative Committee launched a criminal investigation into the 25-mile stretch of coast on October 7.

A special commission will probe the waters near the Kozelsky and Radyginsky former military test sites, the Moscow Times reports.

Some scientists speculated that rocket fuel may have leaked out of the sites’ storage facilities.

Underwater photographer Alexander Korobok, who took part in an expedition, said: “After this dive, I can confirm that there is an environmental disaster.

“The ecosystem has been significantly undermined and this will have long-term consequences, since everything in nature is interconnected.”

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Greenpeace took water samples from around Khalaktyrsky beach, showing petroleum levels four times higher than normal.

Ivan Usatov, a researcher at the Kronotsky Nature Reserve and Pacific Institute of Geography, added: “On the shore, we…did not find any large dead sea animals or birds.

“However, when diving, we found that at depths from 10 to 15 meters there is a massive death of benthos [seabed-dwelling organisms] — 95% are dead.

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“Some large fish, shrimps and crabs have survived, but in very small numbers.”

Russia’s environment minister, Dmitry Kobylkin, earlier downplayed the reports and said: “For us, there is no scale of disaster.

“No one has died, no one was hurt.”

It came after Greenpeace and the World Wide Fund for Nature voiced their concern for the region.

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