Thousands of fish have been killed after rain washed bushfire ash into the Macleay River on the NSW Mid-North coast in Australia.
Ash caused “rapid drops” of oxygen levels in the river.
We were so thrilled to learn that good rain has started to fall over Australia today, but now, the first side-effects are showing up. A mass fish kill occurred in a 60-70km stretch of the Macleay River near Bellbrook, north-west of Kempsey, NSW.
Locals believe the die-off is due to rain washing up bushfires’ ash in the water. Meanwhile, they attempt to re-oxygenate the river with pumps and hoses, but say it could take years for the Macleay River to recover from the mass kill.
According to locals, rainwater from the catchment washed through the river late last week. First he counted 200 dead fish around the Bellbrook Bridge but the figure is much higher now. “It’d be in the hundreds of thousands,” he said.
Yes, because these dead fish are found over a 60 km (37 miles) stretch of the river, from where the Apsley River feeds into the Macleay system, to well past Bellbrook. Devastating!
And now, you can imagine the smell…
Drop in oxygen due to fire ash
The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) fisheries staff have been on high alert for these circumstances since the commencement of the bushfire season and confirmed it received reports of mass fish deaths due to run off from recent rain.
Current rainfall events are adding ash from the extensive bushfires throughout the region into local catchments, as well as other organic material and sediment. This can cause rapid drops to oxygen levels in the water.