Russian investigators said Saturday they were investigating “a possible ecological catastrophe” in the eastern Kamchatka region after dozens of Dead Sea creatures washed up in one of these bays and surfers reported burns to their eyes and throats.
Images of seals, octopuses, starfish and dead urchins on Khalaktyrsky Beach in Avacha Bay were shared on social media for several days.
Surfers in the area also complained that the sea had an unnatural smell and color.
The local government of the region, known for its pristine beaches and volcanic black sand, shared a video of a surfer, Anton Morozov, on Sunday.
He said a number of surfers have suffered chemical burns to their eyes, adding that he hadn̵
“We need to understand what’s going to happen to our health, to animal health,” Morozov said.
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Her fellow surfer, Natalia Danilova, said in an Instagram post Friday that she was diagnosed with a chemical burn to her cornea after spending time in the water in the bay.
Danilova said she had been surfing in the area since August, but three weeks ago she started struggling with her eyesight. Others in his surf group had similar symptoms, while some were vomiting and complaining of breathing problems, he added.
Authorities had not published any warnings in the area and there had been no official explanation as to what could have caused it, he said.
NBC News was unable to verify his claims.
The Russian Investigative Committee said in a statement on Saturday that it had sent a team to investigate the mass death of marine mammals in the area and “a possible ecological catastrophe”.
The committee said there had been reports of increased concentrations of petroleum products and phenols “from an unidentified source in the coastal waters of the sea.”
“The experts took samples of sea water, air and sand, as well as carrying out other verification activities aimed at establishing all the circumstances of the accident,” the statement read.
Kamchatka Governor Vladimir Solodov said the ecological situation on Khalaktyrsky beach was a “cause for serious concern” in a series of videos posted on his Instagram page Friday.
The next day, he posted another video on the social media site inviting all surfers to seek medical help if they were exposed. Additional samples of water, sand and animals from the area were sent to Moscow for analysis, he said. The regional government said preliminary results are expected on Monday.
Thanking local bloggers and surfers for alerting authorities to the situation in an Instagram video on Sunday, Solodov said the seawater color had uniformed in the area and there were no spots on the water that would be indicative of a spill. of oil.
However, the Russian subsidiary of the environmental group Greenpeace he tweeted Saturday night when an “environmental disaster” occurred in Kamchatka and demanded an immediate investigation.
“The unique nature of Kamchatka, a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site, is under threat,” said Vasily Yablokov, head of the climate project with Greenpeace Russia, in a statement on the organization’s website.
“One of the best surfing beaches in Russia, a major tourist attraction in the region is life-threatening and challenges the development of the region’s tourism potential,” he added.