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Oh No, Not This Again: Tens of Thousands of Dead Herring Wash Ashore in Norway

Cast your mind back, dear reader, to about this time last year. First we had news of mass bird deaths in Arkansas, followed by news of an equally unsettling mass fish die out. We already had 200 dead birds fall on the same city this year, but it seems that the fish decided to head to Norway to die in 2012. This was the sight along a beach in northern Norway on New Year’s Eve, after 20 tons of dead herring washed ashore. Is this the end of days? Should we start running around, screaming about the Mayan calendar? No, you fools: Grab some brine and wine and get those herring pickled – stat!

While the sight of thousands of dead fish is surely a strange one, experts have some quite reasonable explanations that don’t involve a shred of the supernatural, thank you very much. The going theories include a shift in fresh water flows from nearby rivers, the herring pushed ashore by predators, or the school being washed up after a freak storm with hurricane-strength winds that struck the coast not long before.

New Scientist quotes Jens Christian Holst from Norway’s Institute of Marine Research as saying that it was likely a combination of these, or other factors, that led to the strange appearance of the fish. Holst said:

“I have never seen such large amounts of stranded herring[.]“

However, just as the locals were deciding how to best deal with 20 tons of dead fish, they found that all of them had mysteriously disappeared. I say “mysteriously,” although the experts agree that they almost certainly washed back out into the North Sea. It doesn’t have anything to do with the 20 tons of pickled herring that myseriously appeared in my apartment. Correlation is hardly causation.

(via New Scientist, Seattle Pi, image via Jan Petter Jørgensen / Scanpix)

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