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Scientists Working Hard to Solve Fish Deaths

09 April 2013

AUSTRALIA - Scientific experts will form a multi-agency Government team to get to the bottom of a recent spate of fish and marine animal deaths along the State’s coastline.

Minister for Fisheries Gail Gago said that a team of experts from different agencies has been established to assist in the coordination of science.

The Chief Executive of PIRSA, Scott Ashby will lead the team and regularly update the Government on its progress.

“Biosecurity officers have been testing dead fish from when they were first reported washed upon our beaches last month,” Ms Gago said.

“This started with small leatherjackets at Port Neill on the Eyre Peninsula followed with other small fish species along the metropolitan coast line the following week.

“All the testing to date is pointing to a natural phenomenon.

“The EPA has advised me that its reviews of ongoing testing have categorically ruled out any link to the desalination plant.

“I am advised that the most likely cause of the fish deaths was warm air and water temperatures and an associated algal bloom. This is associated with the hot spell that occurred towards the end of summer.”

Ms Gago said satellite imagery at the time confirmed the presence of high algal abundance in the water and elevated water temperatures.

“Algae interfere with fish gills and causes gill tissue to break down. If gills are damaged fish can’t extract oxygen from water and they die,” she said.

“While this is a naturally occurring phenomenon we are concerned that the numbers of fish appears to be greater than previous events.

“We are also concerned with the recent penguin deaths and dolphins found washed up dead in recent weeks.

“Scientific experts from the SA Museum are conducting autopsies on dolphins and penguins.”

Water quality testing, tissue analysis and satellite imagery analysis will continue.

TheFishSite News Desk

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