Murchison River fish death response underway
Released 27 Sep 2016
The Department of Water and Department of Fisheries have responded to reports during September of dead fish near the mouth of the Murchison River at Kalbarri.
Following two reports to the FishWatch hotline on 12 September 2016, Fisheries officers observed a significant number of affected Perth herring, also known as bony herring (Nematalosa vlaminghi), extending about 20km upstream of the river mouth.
On 21 September 2016, Fisheries observed further affected herring, but no other affected fish species.
Fish tissue samples collected by Fisheries officers are currently being analysed by the Department of Fisheries’ Fish Health Unit.
Analysis of samples at the Department of Water’s Phytoplankton Ecology Unit has not shown any algae that would have contributed to the fish death, said the Department of Water’s River Sciences Manager Tim Storer.
“At this stage, the cause of the ongoing fish deaths is unknown and we are waiting for pathology results from the Fish Health Unit, which may take several days to complete,” Dr Storer said.
“But fish kills are not uncommon to the lower parts of rivers at this time of year, as flows decline and water temperatures increase – which can result in naturally occurring algal blooms, low oxygen levels, and changes in salinity.”
Departmental officers are continuing to monitor the situation and will collect further samples as required.
Contact with dead fish should be avoided and the Department of Health advises against eating or handling fish found in these circumstances, or recreating in waterways during a fish kill or algal bloom event.
The departments greatly appreciate the support and assistance of the community and encourage people to continue reporting any fish deaths to the Department of Fisheries FishWatch on 1800 815 507.
Algal blooms should be reported to ALGALWATCH 08 6250 8064 (office hours).
Contact: Narelle Hine
Phone: (08) 6364 6475 / 0434 603 441