Millions of fish have been washed away in southeastern Australia in deaths that authorities and scientists say are caused by floods and hot weather.
The New South Wales Department of Primary Industries said the fish deaths coincided with a heat wave that had put pressure on the system, which had been hit by severe conditions from widespread flooding.
The department said the deaths likely resulted from lower oxygen levels as the floods receded, a situation made worse by the fish’s need for more oxygen due to the warmer weather.
Residents of the remote town of Menende have complained of a foul smell from dead fish.
“We kind of started cleaning up, and then this happened, and it’s kind of like you’re walking around in a dried up mess and then you smell this stench. It smells really bad and it’s scary to see all those dead fish,” said Jan Denning, a local resident.
Nature photographer Jeff Looney found huge shoals of dead fish near the main dam in Menende on Thursday night.
“The stench was awful. I almost wore a mask,” Lonnie said. “I was worried about my health. That water up there comes down to our pumping station for the town. People in North Menindy say there are cod and perch floating in the river everywhere.”
Mass killings have been reported in the Darling River Backa in recent weeks. Tens of thousands of fish were found in the same spot in late February, while there were numerous reports of dead fish downstream towards Ponkari, near the borders of the states of South Australia and Victoria.
Massive fish deaths occurred on the river in Menindi during severe drought conditions in late 2018 and early 2019, with local residents estimating millions of deaths.
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