It was supposed to be a fun day of salmon fishing for kids.
It ended up being a fish kill.
New Zealand Fish and Game organized the Marlborough Kids Fish Out earlier in November. The department released about 100 salmon into the Opawa River near Blenheim on a Friday for the Sunday event. However, within 15 minutes, the fish were dead.
“We put the fish in, but we noticed they looked a bit stressed, well, more stressed than they usually do when you’re releasing them,” says field officer Vaughan Lynn. “Then we glanced upstream, and we saw these dead fish bodies floating around, and there was an eel looking a bit sick, and I thought, ‘Oh, we’ve got a problem’.”
Testing revealed that the water where the salmon were released was only 15% oxygenated.
Experts say anything below 80% causes stress in fish.
Now, testing is being done to determine if any contaminants were in the water.
Lynn and others pulled the dead salmon out of the river to be used as fertilizer. Fish and Game says it’s looking for other ways to host fishing events.
One idea is to use a man-made pond.
“There could be the right pond out there,” Lynn says. “We just need someone to point it out.”