Millions of dead and rotting fish have clogged a vast stretch of river near a remote town in the Australian outback as a searing heat wave sweeps through the region.
Videos posted to social media showed boats ploughing through a blanket of dead fish covering the water, with the surface barely visible underneath.
New South Wales (NSW) state authorities on Friday said 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. It’s surreal to comprehend,” Menindee resident Graeme McCrabb said, adding that this year’s fish kill appeared to be worse than previous ones.
“The environmental impact is unfathomable,” he said.
Populations of fish such as bony herring and carp had boomed in the river following floods over the past few months, the state government said, but added that fish were now dying off in huge numbers as floodwaters receded.
“These fish deaths are related to low oxygen levels in the water as flood waters recede,” it 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.”
Previous fish kills at Menindee — about 12 hours’ drive west of Sydney — have been blamed on a lack of water in the river due to prolonged drought, as well as a toxic algal bloom that stretched over 40km.
‘”Unfortunately this won’t be the last,” the NSW government said in 2019.
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