The bizarre spate of mass animal deaths around the world has continued, with hundreds of fish found dead in a Greater Manchester pond.

Experts say the freezing weather caused the deaths, which follow reports of scores of birds falling to their deaths in the US, thousands of fish found floating off the Florida coast and 40,000 devil crabs washing up in Kent.

The internet has been awash with conspiracy theories over the mysterious mass deaths but there is nothing sinister about the latest discovery as 500 fish - many thought to be large bream and pike - were simply found frozen in an icy pond.

dead fish
© manchester Evening News SyndicationLifeless: One of around 500 fish found floating dead in a Stockport pond

Nature lover Stuart Hall spotted the fish in the pond on Chudleigh Close, Stockport, during a walk near his home.

'I was shocked, it was awful to see all that life just gone,' he said. 'It's like the "birds dropping from the trees" scenario, but on a much larger scale.

'When you love nature and the countryside it's heartbreaking. There is no sign of life here whatsoever - not one duck.'

Mr Hall, 60, said he was worried the water may be poisoned.

But Tony Bielderman from Stockport and District Anglers' Federation, which manages the pond, said: 'We do not believe there is any pollution as such, but that this is a natural occurrence which has happened during the extremely cold weather we have suffered for a month or so.

'The numbers involved are 400-500 fish - I wouldn't think it's the full stock by any means.'

© Manchester Evening News SyndicationGruesome discovery: Stuart Hall feared a pond had been poisoned after finding hundreds of dead fish during an afternoon walk

The Environment Agency said people should contact them if they suspected fish were in trouble elsewhere.

A spokesman said: 'This has happened in a few places across the north west. Ice forms on the top of the water and cuts down the oxygen, causing the fish to struggle.

'Lots of fishing clubs have aeration equipment which pumps oxygen into the water and sometimes we may advise that the ice is broken in some places, so that oxygen can start to be recreated under the ice.'

The 24 hour freephone incident line number is 0800 80 70 60.