Over the past week, thousands of dead squid have washed up on the shores of the Santa Maria Island in Chile.
The decomposing bodies of around 10,000 large cephalopods have invaded one of the beaches on the small island and locals are worried that they may pose a health risk.
Experts have not yet been able to determine the cause of the mass die out.
Technicians from the Chilean National Service for Fisheries and Aquaculture (Sernapesca) have collected samples of the dead squid and water for analysis in specialized centers.
Experts say the phenomenon may have been caused by higher than usual seawater temperatures, but have not ruled out pollution either.
The arrival of dead fish and mollusks on Santa Maria’s beaches at this time of year is not unusual, but this is the first time it has reached biblical proportions.
Experts and local police are working to evaluate the scale of the situation and determine whether it could cause a sanitary emergency.
Heavy machinery was brought in by the Chilean government to remove the dead squid on Wednesday, five days after they began to appear.
The delay has been blamed on the country’s poor emergency response structure.
— Jorge Luis Palacios (@CSE_PALACIOS) January 14, 2016
“God help us that the children do not get sick from the smell,” said one resident in an interview with Reuters.
Deputy Police Chief Mario Grandon said that the squid have been rotting for nearly a week.
“Experts are coming here to determine whether the incident could cause sanitary emergency, which is probable, given the quantity of squid that have washed up here,” he said.
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