Hundreds of fish die after drop in oxygen levels during hot weather

PUBLISHED: 14:48 19 August 2020 | UPDATED: 16:16 19 August 2020

Several hundred dead fish floated to the service of the River Nene in March after being killed by a drop in oxygen levels. Picture: JAN FRENCH

Several hundred dead fish floated to the service of the River Nene in March after being killed by a drop in oxygen levels. Picture: JAN FRENCH

Archant

Several hundred dead fish floated to the surface of the River Nene in March after being killed by a drop in oxygen levels.

March couple Dawn and Richard Barber described the sad and distressing sight of seeing the town?s river teeming with dead or dying fish at the weekend. Picture: DAWN BARBERMarch couple Dawn and Richard Barber described the sad and distressing sight of seeing the town?s river teeming with dead or dying fish at the weekend. Picture: DAWN BARBER

Several hundred dead fish floated to the service of the River Nene in March after being killed by a drop in oxygen levels.

Richard Barber, who lives on West End, made the “horrendous” discovery during the morning of Monday August 17 when he was out on his dinghy with his dogs.

“Never in 20 years has it been like that”, he said, having called his wife, Dawn, to say ‘you should come and see the fish’.

March couple Dawn and Richard Barber described the sad and distressing sight of seeing the town’s river teeming with dead or dying fish at the weekend. Picture: DAWN BARBERMarch couple Dawn and Richard Barber described the sad and distressing sight of seeing the town’s river teeming with dead or dying fish at the weekend. Picture: DAWN BARBER

Having immediately contacted the Environment Agency - who quickly sent out officers to assess water quality and make observations over a two kilo metre stretch - Mrs Barber said: “It was a very sad and distressing sight.

“If you’ve ever seen tadpoles in a pond, it was like that. Just these small fish gasping for air.

“It does happen I know, but I had never seen it that bad before.”

Several hundred dead fish floated to the service of the River Nene in March after being killed by a drop in oxygen levels. Picture: JAN FRENCHSeveral hundred dead fish floated to the service of the River Nene in March after being killed by a drop in oxygen levels. Picture: JAN FRENCH

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The Environment Agency officers concluded that levels of oxygen in the water improved as the day progressed and that “fish are no longer exhibiting signs of distress.

“Rapid deoxygenation can sometimes happen during periods of hot weather when followed by thunderstorms or a sudden cooling of temperatures,” said an Environment Agency spokesman.

“In this instance fresh rain water in the system helped recover the initial impacts. “We are working with our partners, including the Middle Level Commissioners, anglers and angling clubs, to keep us up to date with any developments.

March Town Councillor Jan French said council volunteers found dead carp and pike at route 63 (West End/under the bypass) on Wednesday (August 19) while they were hedge trimming and that she had again contacted the Environment Agency.

It comes just a week after anglers from the Chatteris Working Men’s Club arrived on the banks of the Forty Foot Drain to find hundreds of fish up on the surface gasping and realised something was wrong.

In that incident, the Environment Agency’s Great Ouse and Fenland Fisheries team’s fisheries duty officer was on site quickly and monitoring water quality.

The Environment Agency spokesman added: “Our teams work around the clock to respond to environmental incidents, including pollution or fish in distress.

“We encourage people to report them to our hotline on 0800 80 70 60.”

For more information about fish and fishing click here.


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