Residents complain of ‘putrid smell’ as millions of dead fish wash up in Australian town

Millions of dead fish washed up in a river in a southeastern Australian town as the result of a heatwave, local authorities said.

The deaths were reported on the Lower Darling-Baaka River near the town of Menindee in a remote part of New South Wales.

A heatwave across the western part of the state “continues to put further stress on a system that has experienced extreme conditions from wide-scale flooding,” the state’s Department of Primary Industries said in a statement Friday. The “developing large-scale fish death event” is related to low oxygen levels, or hypoxia, in the water as flood waters recede.

“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,” the department said.

Similar incidents have been reported on the Darling-Baaka River in recent weeks. Just last month, tens of thousands of dead fish were found at the same spot.

This week, Menindee residents complained of a horrible smell from the dead fish.

“We’ve just sort of started to clean up [from the last incident], and then this has happened,” said local resident Jan Dening. “You’re walking around in a dried-up mess and then you’re smelling this putrid smell. It’s a terrible smell and horrible to see all those dead fish.”

Another resident, Graeme McCrabb, described the incident to the BBC as “surreal.”

“You can just imagine leaving a fish in your kitchen to rot with all the doors shut and no air conditioner, and we’ve got millions of them,” he added.

In 2019, another massive fish kill was reported in the same area, when millions of fish were found dead over a 25-mile stretch following a period of severe drought, Sky News Australia reported.

With News Wire Services