Touws River estuary being monitored after fish die-off

2019-08-30 19:29
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The South African National Parks (SANparks) is monitoring the Touws River estuary after about 159 dead fish were found in the area. 

The first carcasses were noticed in mid-August and have been restricted to the lower section of the estuary. 

Garden Route National Park spokesperson Nandi Mgwadlamba said the die-off appeared to be short-lived as recorded mortality numbers have dropped off significantly since August 20.

"SANParks rangers intervened through regular patrols in the area to identify species impacted, count total mortalities and remove carcasses," said Mgwadlamba.

During water quality testing, affected fish were caught, euthanised and various blood and tissue samples were taken by SANParks' scientific services in Rondevlei, Cape Town, as well as by an independent scientist from George to determine the type of infection that caused the deaths. 

"Underwater cameras were also deployed to observe the fish. At this stage, superficial examinations indicate the presence of both bacterial and fungal infections. Fortunately, the infections do not appear to be flesh-eating," she said.

Wilderness marine ranger Jonathan Britton said bacterial and fungal infections in fish were not well-documented, adding this was an opportunity to increase the understanding of these processes.

Mgwadlamba said even though the cause of the infection was unknown at this stage, all water quality monitoring conducted indicated nothing of particular concern.

"The water quality results are well within the parameters that would be expected during the closed phase of the Touws River estuary and do not exceed any thresholds that would be detrimental to estuarine fish species. There is also no indication of any sewage or pollution spill.

"SANParks will continue to monitor the situation and will provide updates as they become available. On a positive note, during the week it was also observed that there appeared to be a healthy population of juvenile estuarine fish that did not show signs of fungal or bacterial lesions," said Mgwadlamba.

SANParks has recommended that until further notice, precautions should be taken and people must refrain from eating fish that have abnormal looking lesions on their skin, and avoid collecting dead fish for consumption.

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Read more on:    western cape  |  touwsrivier  |  fish
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