Hundreds of dead fish wash ashore with Asian algae suspected cause

Los Caños de Meca - Image Abril Campana

Hundreds of dead fish that had washed ashore on the beaches of Los Caños de Meca, in the municipality of Barbate (Cádiz) are thought to have died as a result of Asian algae.

The fish, which were found on July 20, washed ashore to the left of the Trafalgar lighthouse on a beach known as Cala del Varadero or Marisucia beach.

Locals who found the fish said there seemed to be no apparent reason for their death, which must have occurred overnight.

Some of the residents have speculated that it is down to the large amounts of algae that have appeared in the area, algae that originates from Asia and which is an invasive species.

Residents that were spoken to by 20minutos said that it is likely the fish suffocated from a lack of oxygen in the water. Apparently, the fish don’t eat the algae and so they may have been pushed into the area by the tides or the winds, leaving them without oxygen and consuming food that may have poisoned them.

The Asian algae (scientific name Rugulopterix okamurae) according to GENA-Ecologists in Action, Rafael Yus will have “dire consequences for marine ecosystems.”

Yus said this particular species has a “strong invasive behaviour in infralittoral marine ecosystems,” and competes with native algae” for attachment. With temperatures of the seas warming, the Asian algae dominate “hindering the nutritional processes of corals and other invertebrates.

“And with high temperatures, they reproduce rapidly and produce very large populations that are then massively washed up on the beaches.”

The cause of the hundreds of dead fish washing ashore may well be down to the Asian algae that also becomes “trapped in fishermen’s nets increasing the costs of cleaning.”

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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at