Thousands of tons of dead fish washed up on a northern Japan beach several months after the release of radioactive water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant began.

“The sardines and some mackerel washed ashore in Hakodate on Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido on Thursday morning, creating a sliver blanket along a stretch of beach about a kilometer long,” Japan Today reports.

The mysterious appearance of dead fish prompted speculation that the release of radioactive wastewater may be the culprit.

Daily Mail reports:

Officials could not come up with an explanation for the phenomenon, but Takashi Fujioka, a Hakodate Fisheries Research Institute researcher, posited a number of theories as to why the fish could have died en-masse.

He said they may have become exhausted due to a lack of oxygen while moving in a densely packed school in shallow waters, or may have suddenly entered cold waters during their migration and succumbed to shock.

There have been several recorded cases of similar phenomena springing up on several parts of Japan’s coastline.

But this particular phenomenon occurred just three months after Japanese authorities began releasing treated radioactive water back into the sea – a move which angered its neighbours including China and South Korea.

After Japan started releasing the wastewater into the sea, China announced it would ban Japanese seafood.

The release heightened tensions in the region, with China calling the move a “selfish and irresponsible act.”

Japan Releases Radioactive Wastewater Into Pacific Ocean

Watch footage of the dead fish on Rumble via RT:

From Japan Today:

Local residents said they have never seen anything like it. Some gathered the fish to sell or eat.

The town, in a notice posted on its website, urged residents not to consume the fish.

Takashi Fujioka, a Hakodate Fisheries Research Institute researcher, said he has heard of similar phenomena before, but it was his first time to see it.

He said the fish may have been chased by larger fish, become exhausted due to a lack of oxygen while moving in a densely packed school, and were washed up by the waves. The fish also may have suddenly entered cold waters during their migration, he said.

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The decomposing fish could lower oxygen levels in the water and affect the marine environment, he said.

“We don’t know for sure under what circumstances these fish were washed up, so I do not recommend” eating them, Fujioka said.

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