‘Horrific’: Millions of dead, rotten fish wash ashore river near Australian town

Millions of dead and decaying fish have choked up a long length of river in a remote Australian town of Menindee in New South Wales. Multiple videos are going viral on social media showing boats slicing through a layer of dead fish and barely revealing the surface underneath.

According to the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, the deaths were probably brought on by low oxygen levels when floodwaters receded. This was made worse because fish needs extra oxygen in the warmer weather. People in the town of Menindee complained of awful smell that the dead fish gave out. 

This is the third mass kill in the region in the recent past, the New South Wales government said on Friday. It added that “millions” of fish had perished in the Darling River close to the small town of Menindee.

Earlier, fish fatalities were reported in the same region in 2018 and 2019. About a million fish had died due to inadequate water flow, poor water quality, and abrupt temperature fluctuations. 

“It’s horrific really, there’s dead fish as far as you can see,” Menindee resident Graeme McCrabb told AFP news agency. “It’s surreal to comprehend.” “The environmental impact is unfathomable.”

With a population of 500, Menindee has been devastated by floods and drought in recent years. According to the state authorities, populations of fish such bony herring and carp had exploded in the river after previous floods, but they were now rapidly declining as the floodwaters retreated.

“These fish deaths are related to low oxygen levels in the water (hypoxia) as flood waters recede,” the state government said. “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.”

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