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Millions of dead fish clog an Australian river near a remote town

Authorities say “millions” of fish died in the Darling River near the small town of Menindi in New South Wales.

Millions of dead and rotting fish have clogged a vast stretch of river near a remote town in Outback, Australia, as a sweltering heat wave has swept through the region.

Videos posted on social media showed boats plowing through a blanket of dead fish choking the water, with the surface barely visible beneath.

On Friday, the New South Wales government said “millions” of fish had died in the Darling River near the small town of Menindi, in the third mass killing to hit the area in the recent past.

The incident comes in the wake of fish deaths in the same region in 2018 and 2019, when up to a million fish died due to poor water flow, poor water quality and sudden temperature changes.

“It’s really awful, there are dead fish as far as you can see,” Menindy resident Graeme McCrab told AFP. “It’s surreal to understand,” he said, adding that this year’s fish kills looked worse than before.

“The environmental impact is incomprehensible.”

Populations of fish such as herring and carp flourished in the river following the recent floods, according to the state government, but are now beginning to diminish in huge numbers as the floodwaters recede.

“Fish mortality is associated with a decrease in oxygen levels in the water (hypoxia) as the flood waters recede,” the state government said in a statement.

“The current hot weather in the region also exacerbates hypoxia, as warmer waters contain less oxygen than cooler water, and fish require higher oxygen at warmer temperatures.”

Blame it on dehydration

Previous fish deaths in Menindi – about 12 hours’ drive west of Sydney – have been blamed on a lack of water in the river due to a long drought and toxic algal blooms that stretched over 40 kilometers (24 miles).

“Unfortunately this will not be the last,” the New South Wales government warned in 2019.

State fisheries spokesman Cameron Lay said he was “difficult” to see the river choked with dead fish.

Minindi has a population of about 500 people and has been ravaged by droughts and floods in recent years.

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