This winter’s been a rough one so far. There are so many pictures online of frozen cities and towns. The season has been bad for Canada and the US, due to the much discussed polar vortex. The UK is said to be facing the worst winter in decades.
The extreme temperatures have been keeping people indoors, but not all creatures have a place to take shelter from the cold. Like this large school of fish that froze solid on the coast of Lovund – a small island off of Norway. It isn’t clear what the fish were doing so close to the coast but the incredible photos of them frozen as they swam in their usual patterns have been doing the rounds online for the past couple of days.
Photo: Ingolf Kristiansen
A theory from Havforsknings Instituttet (a marine research institute) suggests that the fish might have been chased by a predator. They might have grouped together near the coast for refuge, when a sharp eastern wind of minus 7.8 degrees Celsius hit the region and froze the entire bay area.
According to Aril Slotte, head of pelagic fish at the institute, it is not uncommon for herring to be chased ashore by predators. “We know that whales scare herrings at various locations in Troms (in Northern Norway), so it is not inconceivable that this could happen with small saithe and other fish being pushed up against the land,” he said.
Photo: Hermann Mindrum
Although these pictures of the of frozen fish are spectacular, I suppose it was a painful death for these creatures. Ingolf Kristiansen, one of the people who were at the scene, said: “I’ve never seen anything like it. It has not happened before here as far as I know.” He was on a Sunday trip on the island, along with his dog. Some of the pictures show the Miniature Schnauzer standing over the frozen water, perplexed at all the fish beneath his paws.
Photo: Hermann Mindrum
This isn’t the first case of frozen animals in Norwegian waters. A few days ago, a large moose was found submerged in a frozen lake; only his antlers were visible. The animal became an attraction of sorts for the local population. It is believed that he was trying to cross the lake when the ice broke, and the poor moose fell in, freezing to death. Must have been an extremely painful way to go.
Photo: Inger Sjoberg
Kristiansen pointed that although the dead fish are easy prey now, birds can’t really get to their free meals unless the ice thaws out.