Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dead juvenile threadfin leatherjackets have started to wash up on beaches around Eden, including Disaster Bay.
This follows mass deaths of the same species around Mallacoota and elsewhere on the East Gippsland coast in Victoria since about March 21.
Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre manager Kerryn Wood said she had received “lots of inquiries” from people concerned over the number of dead fish being washed up.
Ms Wood said some people had feared the deaths were the result of contamination: “I can assure people that this is an entirely natural occurrence, it has happened before and will most likely happen again.”
Ms Wood said the water temperature around Mallacoota had plummeted to seven degrees, and the juvenile leatherjackets had been caught in the cold current.
There had been reports of hundreds of fish seen “flapping” in a desperate attempt to escape the cold currents and get closer to the surface where the water was warmer, she said.
Hayden Grant posted on Facebook that “Disaster Bay was full of them … never seen or smelt anything like it.”
Thousands of juvenile threadfin leatherjackets washed up on NSW beaches in May and June 2004.
Fisheries Victoria has been working closely with state and federal agencies to investigate the deaths in far eastern Victoria.
But the situation in Victoria appears to be easing, with an aerial survey conducted on Friday, March 31, finding no dead or ill fish.
“We will have final pathology results for the fish that have been tested shortly and this will help us conclude the current investigation,” Fisheries Victoria director Dallas D’Silva said.
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