NORRIS POINT, N.L. - Josephine Chubbs was shocked on Dec. 17 to see a large number of sea creatures wash up on the beach near her Norris Point home.
Chubbs lives in an area known as Deckers Cove. “Our backyard is right on the ocean,” she said by phone Monday.
Dec. 17 had been a day of nasty weather that brought high seas and pretty cold temperatures. While snowblowing her husband picked up a lobster right in their driveway and brought it in the house. Not long after he went inside and told Chubbs to dress warm because they had to go down on the beach.
There they found hundreds of sea creatures washed up by the sea.
“I’ve seen caplin rolling, but never seen lobsters and connors and starfish and crab,” she said. “It was everything washing ashore.”
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She estimates there were 100 lobsters alone. “It was babies, from two inches to measured (harvestable) lobsters.”
Chubbs, who is the custodian at the Bonne Bay Marine Station, was ready to do what she could to get the creatures to the tanks at the marine station, but everything was dead. “There was nothing that I could help save.”
She later called Bob Hooper, the retired MUN professor is the founding director of the station and still volunteers there, to get his thoughts on the discovery.
From the pictures she sent, Hooper was struck that there was a mixture of species, so he feels the creatures were not killed by a disease.
“Everything looked very healthy, apart from being dead,” he said.
He also noted that all the creatures washed up reach their northern limit in Newfoundland and are not things that are found in Labrador.
“The significance of that is it suggests that cold is the problem.”
He’s seen mortalities dozen of times between the fall and this time of year related to water temperatures getting close to and below freezing.
“Even it goes down a fraction of a degree it might make the difference between a connor being alive and a connor being dead.”
He said the loss is probably worse than it looked, as it’s possible more creatures than what washed up were affected, but hopes it’s localized to the shoal waters in front of Chubb’s house.
He’ll be looking to confirm his hypothesis on what happened when he visits the marine station in the next while to download data gathered by a temperature recorder he has there.
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