Hundreds of fish found dead in estuary

Poor water quality could have contributed to the death of hundreds of fish in a Dunedin estuary at the weekend.

Dead fish, including smelt, flounder, giant bullies, trout and inanga, littered the edges of the Kaikorai Stream and estuary at the Brighton Rd bridge on Saturday afternoon, Otago Fish & Game chief executive Ian Hadland said.

He visited the estuary after hearing reports of the dead fish at 4pm.

Any remaining fish appeared stressed, Mr Hadland said.

The water was very warm to the touch.

Hundreds of fish including several native species were found dead in the Kaikorai Stream and...
Hundreds of fish including several native species were found dead in the Kaikorai Stream and estuary, particularly around the Brighton Rd bridge. PHOTO: IAN HADLAND/OTAGO FISH & GAME
Because of the overall poor health of the estuary, its tipping point was quite fine, Mr Hadland said.

And though he was surprised by the biodiversity among the dead species, there were any number of reasons the fish could have died.

"It’s not a healthy stream," he said.

"It’s a sad indictment over how we’ve treated our estuaries over the years.

"It only takes one act to set a whole series of things in motion."

The stream drained a large residential catchment, there were light industrial sections in its middle reaches, and at the bottom it flowed past the Green Island Landfill, he said.

Local residents he spoke to were concerned the water levels were lowered for work to be done in the stream recently.

However, due to the stream’s underlying health, it could have been three sunny days in a row that led to the uninhabitable conditions, Mr Hadland said.

The estuary caught any contaminants put into the stream over the years, he said.

All of the nutrients trapped in the sediment could be brought back into the water column with only the slightest agitation.

It was the second major fish kill reported this year, but Mr Hadland said this incident was different from January in nearby Silverstream when low oxygen levels and high temperatures were thought to have caused the deaths of hundreds of eels and trout.

An investigation into that incident was ongoing, Mr Hadland said.

He understood the Otago Regional Council visited Kaikorai Stream at the weekend and that water sampling had taken place.

The council did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.



“Humanity is waging war on nature. This is senseless and suicidal. The consequences of our recklessness are already apparent in human suffering, towering economic losses, and the accelerating erosion of life on Earth.” - UN secretary-general, António Guterres
"I had the most extraordinary life. It’s only now I appreciate how extraordinary. The living world is a unique and spectacular marvel. Yet, the way we humans live on earth is sending it into a decline. Human needs have overrun the world"
David Attenborough

The DCC and ORC seem to think that "Human needs" = wasting money on botched cycle ways, bridges to nowhere, painted dots on the road, destroying the livelihood of central city businesses by insisting on having an unwanted one way main street, empty busses running on routes that are no good to young and elderly alike, building a hospital on reclaimed land (that's a disaster waiting to happen) - and so it goes on.

They're not interested in repairing/maintaining existing infrastructure and looking after our waterways. It's about time we ratepayers demanded that OUR money be spent on what WE NEED not on their whims.

Ratepayers? Citizens, including the unpropertied. Measures against climate change, for a start.

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter