More than a billion ocean animals living along the pacific coast may have been killed during the recent unprecedented heat wave in the Northwest.
Chris Harley, a marine biologist from the University of British Columbia, told that he was "stunned" by the putrid stench of death and the sight of tens of thousands of dead clams, snails, mussels and sea stars at a Vancouver beach. Harley said that more than 1 billion aquatic creatures may have perished along the coast of the Salish Sea alone, an area that includes sections of western British Columbia and Washington state.
"Eventually, we just won't be able to sustain these populations of filter feeders on the shoreline to be anywhere near the extent that we're used to," Harley said. "If we don't like it, then we need to work harder to reduce emissions and take other measures to reduce the effects of climate change."
The true death toll could be far higher, since the heat wave extended well beyond the Salish Sea. There have been reports of shellfish being found "cooked" on beaches across the region, with low tides helping to facilitate the carnage.
The toll on humans has also been devastating. The heat wave was responsible for hundreds of deaths in the region. Experts expect more potentially deadly heat waves in the future as the effects of climate change continue to progress unabated.