Scientists searching for answers to fish kill

Albany Advertiser
The tide has washed away most of the dead shellfish.
Camera IconThe tide has washed away most of the dead shellfish.

Fisheries officers hope to get test results by the end of the week as they try to determine what caused a massive fish kill at Cheynes Beach east of Albany.

More water samples were taken from the beach yesterday in the wake of a fish kill which left thousands of mussels and other marine species washed up on the sand last week.

A public report on Friday prompted officers to collect samples from the beach and issue a public safety warning.

Mussels, other shellfish and starfish were strewn across more than 1km of the beach.

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Resident and photographer Raeline Smith said she had not seen anything like it in the more than 30 years she had lived near the beach.

Mussels at Cheynes Beach.
Camera IconMussels at Cheynes Beach. Credit: Raeline Smith, RJS Photographs

She photographed the piles of shellfish and sent the images to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.

“I don’t know what it is,” she said.

“Down here we’re sort of at the end of the Leeuwin Current and you see rubbish coming all the way from Indonesia.

“The water temperature has drastically changed in the last couple of weeks by the feel of it — whether that had anything to do with it, as well as the onshore winds — I don’t know.”

By Saturday, some of the dead sea creatures had been reclaimed by the tide, but there were still piles of them on the sand.

A sea creature on the beach.
Camera IconA sea creature on the beach. Credit: Raeline Smith, RJS Photographs

City of Albany rangers examined the site at the weekend and Fisheries officers will continue to monitor the area this week.

The samples that were taken on Friday are being tested at laboratories in Perth.

DPIRD advised that people should not swim or fish in areas of water with large numbers of dead or decomposing fish because they could contain high levels of bacteria.

The dead sea creatures should not be collected, used as bait, consumed or allowed to come into contact with pets.

Fish kills should be reported to FishWatch on 1800 815 507.

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