Australian river filled with millions of dead fish as locals complain of ‘putrid’ smell

Residents of a small Australian town hold their noses at the stench of millions of dead fish that have washed ashore in recent weeks, clogging a major river.

Residents of the New South Wales Outback town of Menindee have complained of a terrible smell of dead fish. One resident, a local wildlife photographer, told The Associated Press that he “almost had to put on a mask.”

Millions of dead fish have clogged a river near a small Australian town. (Graeme McCrabb)

“I was worried about my own health. That water up high comes down to our pumphouse for the town. People north of Menindee say there’s cod and perch floating all over the river,” he said.

The New South Wales Department of Primary Industries believe that depleted oxygen levels and receding flooding are the likely cause of the fish kills. The situation is made worse by the fact that the fish need more oxygen due to the warmer weather.


Massive fish kills have also been reported on the Darling-Baaka River in recent weeks, where tens of thousands of fish were found in the same location in late February. There have been several reports of dead fish downstream towards Pooncarie, near the state borders of South Australia and Victoria.

Authorities have set up an emergency operations center to coordinate a massive cleanup and provide clean water to residents. State agencies have also begun releasing higher quality water where possible to increase dissolved oxygen levels in the area.

“We just started cleaning up and then it happened, and it’s kind of like you walk around in a dried up mess and you smell this putrid smell,” said Jan Dening, a resident of Menindee. “It’s a terrible, horrible smell to see all those dead fish.”


The development comes just weeks after Florida’s southwest coast experienced an outbreak of toxic red algae, leading residents to complain of burns to their eyes and skin as thousands of dead fish washed ashore along the shores.

Sarah Rumpf of Fox New and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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