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Hundreds of fish die on Great Yarmouth’s Waterways lake

PUBLISHED: 17:37 12 September 2016 | UPDATED: 17:37 12 September 2016

Scott Blacker from Sea Life collecting the dead fish while a portable pump is brought in to help reoxygenate the water. Picture: George Ryan

Scott Blacker from Sea Life collecting the dead fish while a portable pump is brought in to help reoxygenate the water. Picture: George Ryan

George Ryan

Hundreds of fish in an ornamental lake on Great Yarmouth sea front have died.

Fish started floating to the surface over the weekend at the Waterways after oxygen levels fell to levels that could not sustain life.

Attempts to rectify the situation began yesterday at the attraction in North Drive, with water pumps used to get oxygen back into the water.

Experts from Sea Life, a marine tourist facility with a base in Yarmouth, were called in to help remove the dead fish.

Fiona Smith, a curator at Sea Life in Weymouth who is on a placement in Yarmouth for a week, tested the oxygen levels in the water.

She said because the Waterways are not that deep and the water has a large surface area, the warm weather can quickly evaporate water in the lake. With large algae blooms too this leads to a reduction of oxygen in the water.

Despite these factors she said she was still surprised by the number of dead fish, adding: “The fish have all been here a long time. Whether it has been a build up if different combinations and it has reached a tipping point it is hard to say right now.”

Scott Blacker, a curator at Sea Life in Blackpool, also on a placement, said: “It is such a shame that the fish have died. We’re trying to get all the dead animals out and swap the bad water for good water to see if that works.”

Mr Blacker said there were also birds at the bottom of the water, and a couple of dead rats too, but it is not clear if these deaths are related.

Water samples were also taken and sent to a lab in Norwich for analysis. The results are expected back later this week.

In a statement, Great Yarmouth Borough Council, which operate the Waterways, said: “The sudden death of the fish is due to low oxygen levels in the water, thought to be linked to the weather conditions.

“While this is sad and distressing, it is a purely natural phenomenon that is not uncommon on waterways across the UK at this time of year.

“After advising the Environment Agency, staff from Great Yarmouth Borough Council and GYB Services Ltd, the council’s operational partner, are working proactively with experts from Sealife Centre Great Yarmouth to tackle the matter.

“As part of this, pumps to help put more oxygen into the water have been installed as a temporary measure while full aeriation pumps are on-route. The dead fish are also being removed. People are advised not to try to remove fish themselves, due to the health and safety risk.”

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