Mystery oil leakage in Russia's sea harms surfers and kills thousands of animals

Thousands of dead sea creatures have washed up on the beach.
Thousands of dead sea creatures have washed up on the beach. Photo credit: Instagram / @greenpeaceru

Surfers in Russia's far east region of Kamchatka have reported ocean water pollution so bad it's making surfers sick and killing off masses of sea animals.

Pictures and videos circulating on social media show the peninsula's Pacific coast littered with thousands of dead animals - giant octopuses, seals, sea urchins, stars, crabs and fish.

Katya Dyba, a geographer who runs the Snowave surf school in Kamchatka, raised the issue last Friday.

"Clean water on Khalaktyrsky beach has become unsafe for people and most likely for sea animals," she wrote in a Facebook post.

"For several weeks now, all surfers have experienced problems with eyes after returning from the water. White swaddling, blurred vision, dryness. Many had nausea, weakness, high temperatures."

Greenpeace Russia declared this situation an "ecological and environmental disaster" and urged an investigation.

Specialists collecting samples said the water showed four times more petroleum products than usual, including fossil fuels such as diesel and petrol.

"It is unclear where petroleum products came from in the water," Dyba said, "but I really want to find and eliminate the reason."

"Obviously, the leak poisoning the ocean is still unstoppable because the water reaction has been stable for weeks."

Russia's Defense Ministry has denied any vessel from its Pacific Navy Fleet was responsible for the contamination, and told CBS "no combat training involving ships and vessels of the Pacific Fleet have been carried out" in the area since June.