Beachgoers have told of their shock as hundreds more dead crustaceans and marine life washed up on the North East coastline.
Areas of the Teesside beach between Marske and Saltburn were awash with dead shellfish, from razor clams and crabs to lobster and mussels.
Resident Sharon Bell regularly visits the beach to photograph the sunrise, but says the increase in dead crustaceans washing up along the coast in the past year is concerning.
And it was on a visit to the beach at Marske on Wednesday morning which led her to sound the alarm on social media about how bad the current situation is. She posted several worrying images of dead marine life trapped among seaweed alongside a video showing the vast scale of the affected area.
However, the Environment Agency has insisted large swathes of dead crustaceans along the coast are "a regular occurrence" at this time of year.
Dead and dying crabs and lobsters were first spotted in unusually high numbers along parts of the North East coast of England in 2021, with the mass devastation continuing this year.
"The last time it was mainly crabs and lobsters but this time it’s everything," Ms Bell said. "The sheer amount of different species makes you think ‘how can it still be happening?’ It’s not just affecting crabs and lobsters its right across the scale.
"It never seems to have settled down since October, when it was first reported.
"I’ve lived coastal and walked the beaches all my life and because I’m down there every day I get to know what’s normal and what’s not. Going back to last year and the first wash-ups, I’d never seen anything like that before and it’s just progressed from there."
It comes after shocked locals demanded answers after a dead Minke Whale washed ashore on Redcar beach, adding to the concern over marine life off the Teesside and North Yorkshire coast.
A range of potential causes of the mass die-offs including licensed dredging activity, chemical contamination, presence of algal blooms and aquatic animal disease were investigated – but no single, consistent causative factor was identified.
However, a harmful algal bloom present in the area was identified as of significance and the most likely cause.
Yet activists and local fishermen continue to dispute the official explanation behind the mortality, although dredging has continually been ruled out as a likely cause.
Eleven months on from the first issues being reported, fishermen are still reporting catch levels significantly below the levels they were seeing last summer.
Ms Bell added: "There needs to be a proper investigation to get right down to the root cause of what this is, because something is seriously wrong. To just carry on is careless and senseless, and just doesn’t show any regard for the marine life. People have a real concern."
A statement from the Environment Agency confirmed it is investigating the issue.
“Officers are attending reports of seaweed and deceased marine life being washed up on beaches on the North East coast," a spokesperson said.
"This is a regular occurrence at this time of year and follows stormy conditions over the weekend which can often have a significant impact on the marine environment.
“We are mindful of the high number of shellfish washed up last winter, and continue to monitor stocks closely. A comprehensive investigation was conducted earlier this year, concluding a naturally occurring algal bloom was the most likely cause.”
Northern Echo photographer Stuart Boulton visited the beach between Marske and Saltburn on Wednesday to capture the scale of the recent sea life deaths.
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