In recent years, billions of snow crabs have disappeared from the ocean around Alaska due to warmer ocean temperatures, which likely caused them to starve to death, as per scientists, CNN reported. The finding comes just days after the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced that the snow crab harvest season was cancelled for the second year in a row, citing the overwhelming number of crabs missing from the typically frigid, treacherous waters of the Bering Sea.
Sudden disappearance of the snow crabs that began showing in 2021
The study published on Thursday by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found a significant link between recent marine heat waves in the eastern Bering Sea and the sudden disappearance of the snow crabs that began showing up in surveys in 2021.
The study's lead author and fishery biologist at NOAA Cody Szuwalski said: "When I received the 2021 data from the survey for the first time, my mind was just blown. Everybody was just kind of hoping and praying that was an error in the survey and that next year you would see more crabs."
"And then in 2022, it was more of a resignation that this is going to be a long road," Szuwalski told CNN. The US snow crab fishery was closed in Alaska in 2022.