The gas explosion took place in the middle of the cod nursery

28 September, 2022

It’s a fantastically large emission of methane gas, and a terrible bad luck that it happened exactly where it did,” says Thomas Dahlgren, a marine biologist at the University of Gothenburg.

Nord Stream is one of the world’s largest gas pipelines, with an ability to transport 300 million cubic meters of gas a day. In the Baltic Sea, they are located in a stretch from the Gulf of Finland to Germany. But the explosions took place outside Bornholm, right where the cod has its spawning ground. It can have devastating consequences for the species.

“We know that cod is doing very badly. Overfishing and low oxygen levels are two reasons. It doesn’t look good for the cod at large and so it happens here.

dead fish
Photo: Kimmo Hagman/DeepSeaProductions

Gas emissions into the oceans are not uncommon. Wherever there are gas deposits, it leaks out naturally. But not this much. In the vicinity of “natural” leaks, the ecosystem usually develops where animals and plants adapt to that environment.

– Here it is completely different. This leak is so much bigger and takes place in an environment that is not used to it.

That’s bad news for cod. Yet it is not really known how fish are affected by gas emissions like this. There’s not a lot of research done. Some articles about a large leak in the Black Sea in the 80s, describe how the fishermen found it difficult to move and quite a few died.

For cod, which is already under severe strain, it can be devastating. Therefore, it is also important to quickly start investigating what is happening to the marine life in the area.

“It’s extremely important,” Dahlgren said, “to quickly find out how this spill may have further deteriorated for cod.” If you see in three or four years’ time that cod has not recovered, you might blame the seals, even though it was really this accident that was the cause. If you don’t study it here and now, you have to guess in the future.

cod swimming
Photo: Johan Candert/DeepSeaProductions
Text: Lena Scherman
Photo: Kimmo Hagman, Johan Candert

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