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Sardines Die in Large Numbers at Fishing Port in Mie; Possibly Due to Oxygen Deprivation After Being Chased by Large Fish

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Dead fishes are seen at Nakiri fishing port in Shima, Mie Prefecture, on Thursday.

A large number of dead sardines were found floating in the Nakiri fishing port in Shima, Mie Prefecture. Some of them were decomposing and emitting a foul odor. Local fishermen and the city municipality are collecting the fish.

According to the city, the small fish found floating in the harbor were Sardinella lemuru, which are about 20 centimeters in length. It is believed that the sardines wandered into the port after being chased by larger fish. The carcasses began to be noticed on Tuesday. No harmful plankton was detected in the seawater, and the small fish are believed to have died from a lack of oxygen.

Local fishermen collected about 85 tons by Thursday. Parts of the harbor are still covered with carcasses, and cleanup efforts will continue on Friday and beyond.

The Sardinella lemuru is a southern species of fish and are found in Japan off the coast of Kyushu and other areas, but the number of catches in the waters around Shima has increased dramatically since last year. A prefectural research laboratory associated with fishery believes that rising sea water temperatures due to global warming may be causing them to migrate northward in large numbers.