Australian river covered in dead fish, soaring temperature responsibletext_fields
Sydney: The Darling River in Australia is clogged with dead fish after a vast stretch of the waterbody near the small town of Menindee was affected by a mass kill.
A video on social media showed boats ploughing through a blanket of dead fish with the surface of the river underneath. The New South Wales government on Friday said that millions of fish are dead and noted that it is the third such mass kill to hit the region since 2018.
A local resident told AFP that it is a horrific sight and surreal to comprehend because there is dead fish as far as one can see. He added that this year's fish kill seems to be worse than previous ones and the environmental impact is unfathomable. Menindee only has a population of 500 people and has been struggling with drought and flood.
"You can just imagine leaving a fish in your kitchen to rot with all the doors shut and no air conditioner, and we've got millions of them," said another local to BBC. The temperature in the town is expected to reach 41C on Saturday. People use river water for washing and showering but the fish kill has changed the situation. "Over time those people won't be able to access that water for domestic use which is just shameful."
The ongoing heatwave affecting the Darling-Baaka river is a major factor in the life of aquatic animals. The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) said the heatwave has put further stress on the system which has already experienced extreme conditions from wide-scale flooding.
A statement from the government said the population of fish like bony herring and carp boomed in the river after the recent floods. But now, they are dying because the floodwaters have receded. The low oxygen levels in the water are behind the fish deaths. The hot weather is also enhancing hypoxia, the condition of low oxygen levels in the water. "Warmer water holds less oxygen than cold water, and fish have higher oxygen needs at warmer temperatures."
The previous mass kill at Menindee was blamed on the lack of water in the river due to prolonged drought and toxic algal bloom. In 2019, the government warned that it will not be the last such incident.