Baby Oysters In France Are Dying Off By the Millions. Why?

The Independent reports that millions of baby oysters along the French coast from Normandy to the Mediterranean are dying, causing a major crisis for France's shellfish industry.

Scientists are clueless as to the cause - maybe the bivalves are sad about the bee crisis? - but there are several theories going around. Most ideas link the deaths to a slight rise in temperature of the seas around western Europe this summer, the article says.

Perhaps the temperatures have created an influx of toxic algae. Another theory suggests that the warmer sea water has led to abnormal quantities of the microscopic plankton eaten by oysters. The baby shellfish, aged from 12 to 18 months, may have been dying of over-eating. How un-French!

Whatever the cause, the situation is dire. The article says the crisis is the worst to hit the French oyster industry - Europe's largest - in 30 years.

Michel Barnier, the French Agriculture and Fisheries minister has commissioned the French Institute for Research and Exploitation of the Sea (Ifremer) to focus all its resources to identify the cause or, more likely, combination of causes.