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Millions of Prawns Wash up on Beach in Chile

Mar 22, 2013 06:32 AM EDT

Millions of prawns have now blanketed a beach in Coronel, which is about 330 miles or 530 kilometers to the south of the capital Santiago, Chile, according to media reports.

The spectacle of seeing an entire beach covered in red prawns and crabs has stunned researchers, who are now looking for a possible explanation for this catastrophe.

The die-off of the prawns was first noticed by local fishermen early this week, AFP reported. Fishermen said that they watched red spots just offshore and by Tuesday, the entire beach was covered with millions of stranded crustaceans.

Researchers will be looking for trace elements from the samples obtained from the beach to find the reason behind the mass death of the prawns. They will also be analyzing environmental factors at Coronel Bay along with "temperature, electrical conductivity, and, especially, oxygen," environmental crimes investigator Victor Casanova told local media, according to AFP.

"I'm 69 years old and started fishing when I was nine, but as a fisherman, I never saw a disaster of this magnitude," said Gregorio Ortega, a fisherman from the region, reports The Sun. Some fishermen are blaming the local power stations that use seawater as a cooling agent.

Endesa Chile, the country's leading electricity generator, has denied any wrongdoings on its part that may have led to the prawns dying off in such high numbers, reports The Associated Press. Endesa Chile Project Manager Marcelo said that the shrimps must have died due to the "flow of deep waters coming from the continental platform, induced by currents of wind on the ocean."

Fishermen have said that the mass death of the prawns will affect their entire community.

"The way everything is being destroyed here, it makes us think we won't be able to take anything from the sea," Marisol Ortega, a spokesman for the community, told I Love Chile.

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