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River fish deaths prompt warning

Callum HunterSouth Western Times
Warning signs have been removed.
Camera IconWarning signs have been removed. Credit: Supplied by Recfishwest

Close to 1000 fish were found dead in a stretch of the Capel River earlier this month, prompting health warnings from various government departments.

People living near or passing through the lower Capel River area have been urged by the Department of Health not to swim or fish near Mallokup Bridge after the discovery was made on October 7.

According to the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, low levels of dissolved oxygen were recorded at multiple spots along the one kilometre stretch of river that was most heavily impacted.

“This was likely due to flushing from recent rain in the area, which washed off the catchment,” Department of Water and Environmental Regulation scientific officer Tim Storer said.

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“The low dissolved oxygen levels were below tolerance levels for fish species, suggesting that this caused or significantly contributed to fish deaths.

“Other water quality testing, which included salinity, pH, temperature, metals, pesticides and herbicides, showed no significant issues.”

The affected species included marron, freshwater cobbler, redfin perch, turtles, carp and mullet.

Later samples taken by the Capel shire revealed high levels of bacteria at several of the impacted sites.

Health warning signs were set to be in place until further tests confirm a reduction in bacteria numbers.

Department of Health signage was removed from the area on Friday after water quality testing results showed water quality met recreational and environmental guidelines.

No further fish deaths have been reported since the initial discovery though DWER is still investigating.

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