• About 500,000 mussels washed up on shore in New Zealand
  • The mussels were cooked to death by increasing water temperatures
  • New Zealand's ocean temperatures are increasing every decade

A New Zealand resident spotted about half a million mussels washed up on the shore of Maunganui Bluff Beach on North Island. According to experts, the marine animals were most likely cooked to death due to the rising temperatures in New Zealand’s oceans.

The harrowing scene was spotted by resident Brandon Ferguson as he was walking a beach in North Island. He recorded the incident and posted a video on his Facebook page.

According to Ferguson, he was walking along the shore to collect mussels. He then came across thousands of mussel shells littered across the shore and in between rocks. He estimated that there were around 500,000 mussels in the area. Most of them were already dead while some were floating near the shore.

“It smelled like dead rotting seafood,” Ferguson told Business Insider. “Some of the mussels were empty, some of them were dead ... Some were just floating around in the tide. There were well over 500,000 mussels and shells littering the coastline.”

Ferguson speculated that the rising temperatures in the ocean might have caused the massive die-offs of the mussels. He said that this isn’t the first time that he spotted thousands of dead marine animals littering the coastline.

Ferguson’s theory is supported by an ongoing report that measures the sea-surface temperatures in New Zealand. According to the report, the temperature of the oceans surrounding the country has been increasing by 0.1 to 0.2 degrees Celsius every decade since 1981.

Based on the video Ferguson reported, marine scientist Andrew Jeffs of the University of Auckland said that the mussels might have died due to a condition known as heat stress, which could be triggered by mid-day low tides and hot weather.

“The mussels die of heat stress. You imagine lying in the midday sun every day for four hours for the best part of a week. You'd be pretty sunburnt at the end of that,” he told the New Zealand Herald.

Jeffs warned that if the temperatures if New Zealand’s oceans continue to increase, mussels and mollusks could soon disappear completely from the country.

Researchers found opioids in Puget Sound, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean near the coast of Washington, while testing the waters for contamination. In this photo, an environmental activist returns stranded mussels to water amid Vltava river water level decrease in Prague, Oct. 6, 2014. Getty Images/ MICHAL CIZEK