Mass fish death hits Australia river, ‘impact unfathomable’
The cause is attributed to low dissolved oxygen levels.
As a blazing temperature sweeps over the region, millions of dead and rotting fish have clogged a river near a rural town in Australia's outback.
Social media videos showed vessels plowing through a covering of dead fish coating the water, extending over several kilometers, with the surface scarcely visible beneath.
Mass fish death in outback NSW, Australia - again. Distressing sign of damaged environment & mismanaged inland waters. https://t.co/FgI6yILHHn— Raewyn Connell (@raewynconnell) March 18, 2023
The New South Wales government reported on Friday that "millions" of fish had died in the Darling River near the small town of Menindee, in the third mass kill to hit the area since 2018.
"It's horrific really, there's dead fish as far as you can see," Menindee local Graeme McCrabb said, as quoted by AFP.
"It's surreal to comprehend," he said, adding that this year's fish kill appeared to be worse than previous ones.
"The environmental impact is unfathomable," he warned.
According to the state authorities, populations of fish such as bony herring and carp had exploded in the river during recent floods but were now dying off in large numbers as floodwaters retreated.
"These fish deaths are related to low oxygen levels in the water (hypoxia) as flood waters recede," the government said in a statement.
"The current hot weather in the region is also exacerbating hypoxia, as warmer water holds less oxygen than cold water, and fish have higher oxygen needs at warmer temperatures," the statement added.
Earlier fish kills in Menindee, some 12 hours west of Sydney, were blamed on a lack of water in the river caused by a prolonged drought, as well as a toxic algal bloom that spread for 40 kilometers (24 miles).
"Unfortunately this won't be the last," the NSW government warned in 2019.
State government fisheries spokesperson Cameron Lay said it was "confronting" to see the river choked by dead fish.
"We are seeing tens of kilometers where there is fish really as far as the eye can see, so it's quite a confronting scene," he said, as quoted by ABC.
Menindee has a population of about 500 people and has recently been ravaged by both drought and flooding.
Read next: Australia's Great Barrier Reef suffering 'widespread' bleaching