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Mass fish deaths in Australia set to continue


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Hundreds of thousands of native fish in Australia’s Darling River have died following a major outbreak of blue–green algae and some severe weather. Two mass die-offs have been reported near Menindee in western New South Wales — the first was late last year, and the second last week.

Outbreaks of blue–green algae (cyanobacteria), which thrive in warm water, are not uncommon during droughts. The algae did not directly cause the mass die-off; rapid cooling and intense rainfall might have disrupted the bloom and depleted the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water, killing the fish, said Anthony Townsend, a senior fisheries manager at the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, in a statement.

But low water levels in the river have compounded the die-offs, which have greatly affected native species such as bony herring (Nematalosa erebi), golden and silver perch (Macquaria ambigua and Bidyanus bidyanus, respectively) and the vulnerable Murray cod (Maccullochella peelii) . “Unfortunately, the main causes of this distressing event are the lack of water flowing into the northern rivers, and the impact of 100 years of over-allocation of precious water resources throughout the entire basin,” says the Murray–Darling Basin Authority, a statutory agency that oversees the basin through which the river flows.https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00146-5

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