No clue on dead fish

2016-08-05 09:48
Pietermaritzburg Golf Club groundskeeper Graham Dickinson examines one of the dead fish floating in the dam near the course's 15th hole yesterday.

Pietermaritzburg Golf Club groundskeeper Graham Dickinson examines one of the dead fish floating in the dam near the course's 15th hole yesterday. (Ian Carbutt)

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Scores of dead fish were found floating at the dam’s edge at the Pietermaritzburg Golf Course’s 15th hole on Thursday morning.

Large carp, barbel and other fish, some suspected to weigh around 10 kg, were found belly-up, while other fish lay dead on the bottom of the dam.

Pietermaritzburg Golf Club grounds­keeper Graham Dickinson said the dam had received around 55 mm of rain last weekend, and he started to notice fish dying early in the week.

“This morning when I came out, I just saw a whole lot more floating everywhere,” he said.

Dickinson said many of the dead fish were around 30 years old, and it was concerning that they were dying.

He said a similar incident had happened at the course’s top dam just over a year ago, although not as severe.

The dam is fed by the Blackburrowspruit, which runs a few metres away.

Dickinson said he had seen foam coming from the river and entering the dam a few days ago, and thought that pollution may have been the cause.

Dusi-Mngeni Conservation Trust (Duct) chairperson David Still said the death of the fish could be due to a rapid change in temperature, leaving the dam with low oxygen levels.

Duct general manager Doug Burden visited the dam and took water samples for testing.

Burden said the cause of the deaths would be difficult to prove without the test results and that one could not speculate.

He said there were several factors that could have contributed to the fish deaths.

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Nqobile Madonda said the municipality’s environmental health department would also conduct tests and investigate the deaths.

Meanwhile, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife has issued warnings of several puffer fish washing up on KwaZulu-Natal beaches in recent days.

Ezemvelo on Thursday warned people to keep pets away from the fish on beaches in the Ballito area, at Salmon Bay, Sheffield, Tinley Manor, and Clansthal on the South Coast.

The statement said it was thought the deaths of the fish had been caused by a “rapid change in water temperature”.

Ezemvelo spokesperson Musa Mntambo said they had asked people to contact the organisation if they came across the dead fish.

“The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have indicated they will be willing to pay for tests to determine the cause of their death,” he said.

People were warned to handle the fish with gloves and to keep pets away from them.

“Puffer fish are completely toxic to dogs,” said Mntambo.

“They are not, however, fatal to human beings.

“Any puffer fish encountered are to be buried half-a-metre below the ground. This is so dogs do not dig them back up again.

“Collections or burials are to be done strictly with gloves on to avoid any contact with the skin,” said Mntambo.

• chelsea.pieterse@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg
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