Mussels, clams, and other shellfish in Canada's seas boiled to death in its record-breaking heat wave

A photo of rock-bound mussels are exposed at low tides. Not the ones found in Vancouver. Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty
  • A marine biologist found thousands of dead mussels, clams, and starfish on a Vancouver beach Sunday.

  • They died as a result of the heat in the record-breaking heatwave that hit Canada in June.

  • He estimates that more than a billion seashore animals died on Canada's Salish Sea coastline alone.

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Tens of thousands of clams, mussels, sea stars, and snails were found boiled to death in a Vancouver, Canada, beach during the country's record-breaking heat wave.

Chris Harley, a marine biologist at the University of British Columbia, was alerted to the deaths when he smelled a foul stench coming from Vancouver's Kitsilano Beach on Sunday.

He told Canada's CBC news network he was "stunned" to make the discovery.

British Columbia hit record-high temperatures three days in a row in late June, hitting 121.3 degrees Fahrenheit on June 29.

It is not clear when the shellfish died. Harley told the CBC that most intertidal animals can only bear a temperatures of up to 86 Fahrenheit; thermal imaging on June 28 showed that the temperature on the Vancouver coastline hit about 122 degrees.

A map shows the Western coast of Canada and the US. A circle shows the Salish sea.
The Salish sea, on the Western coast of Canada. Google Maps; Insider

The death of these animals will temporarily affect water quality in the area as mussels and clams filter the sea, Harley said, according to CBC.

By calculating how many dead sea animals were found in a small area, Harley also estimated to CBC that more than a billion seashore animals living along the Salish Sea coastline might have died.

This is not the first time a heat wave has killed shellfish. A 2019 heat wave caused the largest die-off of mussels in Bodega Head, a bay on the California coast.

The temperatures in Canada have been so intense that wildfires have been making pyrocumulonimbus, clouds that can generate tornadoes and lightning which can cause more wildfires, Insider's Aylin Woodward reported.

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