Fisheries find likely cause for Cheynes Beach fish kill
Fisheries scientists have determined that last week’s shellfish kill at Cheynes Beach was likely a natural event caused by a big easterly swell and the spawning behaviour of the shellfish.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development released a statement this afternoon, clarifying that the masses of shellfish that washed up on the beach were oysters — not mussels.
“Scientists from DPIRD have today established that most of the shellfish, observed in the marine fish kill at Cheynes Beach near Albany last week, were oysters and not mussels as first thought,” the statement said.
“Some oyster and mussel species can look similar, but on this occasion it was the oyster Electroma papilionacea (commonly called butterfly-shell), a native species to the South West of WA that lives among seaweed and seagrasses.”
DPIRD said the swell had washed the oysters ashore, along with some other susceptible marine species, such as starfish.
“Histologic examination of the specimens showed the oysters were in good health with signs they had recently spawned,” DPIRD said.
“Significantly, just prior to this event, there had been a large easterly swell in this area of the coast and the behaviour of oysters around spawning makes them more susceptible to being washed ashore.
“These factors would have contributed to the extensive number of native oysters observed at Cheynes Beach, along with a small number of other marine species.”
Fish kills should be reported to FishWatch on 1800 815 507.
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