Millions of Australian fish washed up dead

Millions of Australian fish washed up dead

Millions of fish have been washed up dead in southeastern Australia in a die-off that authorities and scientists say is caused by floods and hot weather.

The Department of Primary Industries in New South Wales said the fish deaths coincided with a heat wave that put stress on a system that has experienced extreme conditions from wide-scale flooding.

The deaths were likely due to low oxygen levels as the floods recede, a situation worsened by fish needing more oxygen because of the warmer weather, the department said.

Residents of the Outback town of Menindee complained of a terrible smell from the dead fish.

We just started to clean up, and then this happened, and that s kind of you're walking around in a dried-up mess and then you re smelling this putrid smell. It is a terrible smell and horrible to see all those dead fish, said Jan Dening, a local.

Nature photographer Geoff Looney found huge clusters of dead fish near the main weir in Menindee on Thursday night.

The stink was terrible. Looney said I nearly had to put a mask on. I was worried about my own health. The water in the top comes down to our pumping station for the town. People north of Menindee say there are lots of cod and perch floating down the river. Mass kills have been reported on the Darling-Baaka River in recent weeks. Tens of thousands of fish were found at the same spot in late February, while there were several reports of dead fish downstream to Pooncarie, near the borders of South Australia and Victoria states.

There were dozens of deaths on the Menindee River during severe drought conditions in late 2018 and early 2019 with locals estimating millions of deaths.