Kamchatka is a large peninsula, in Russia's far East, which juts out into the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Okhotsk.
The first signs that something was wrong at the picturesque Khalaktyr beach, a popular tourist and surfing spot, became apparent when people started to develop symptoms after taking a dive in the ocean. “For weeks now, all surfers have been experiencing eye problems after coming back from the water,” Yekaterina Dyba, an administrator at a local surf school, wrote on social media on Thursday. She added that the swimmers felt “a decrease in vision,” as well as fever, nausea, and a sore throat.
Many shared personal stories. “I had the same problems with my eyes. Yesterday I was diagnosed with a first-degree corneal burn. Eye drops and ointments were prescribed, and I felt better [afterwards],” one local wrote online.
Two days later, shocked beach-goers discovered that scores of octopuses, crabs, starfish, sponges, sea urchins, and other marine animals had washed up ashore. “It’s like a graveyard here,” one person was heard saying as he filmed a thick layer of carcasses covering the sand.
A task force has
been set up to tackle the situation.
Poisoning of water in the area of Khalaktyrsky beach in Russia's Kamchatka region, according to preliminary data, was caused by oil products leak from a commercial tanker. The ownership of the vessel has not yet been established, a source in the emergency services of the Far East region told TASS on Saturday. "According to preliminary data, a commercial tanker followed the sea route along the beach with a leak, which was eliminated but led to a spill of oil products containing phenol.
The vessel's ownership has not yet been established, a search is underway," the source said. The source added that "this area of the Pacific Ocean has active routes of sea cargo ships." It was reported earlier that an excess of phenol and oil products was found in the coastal zone near Khalaktyrsky beach, where, according to local residents, a massive stranding of sea animals was seen on the shore.
Later, phenol and oil products were identified in three more areas of the Avachinsky Bay in the Kamchatka region. The Russian Investigative Committee began a procedural check of information about the mass death of sea animals on Kamchatka beaches.