Thousands of fish found dead at Pine Harbour

Pine Harbour marina is littered with long, silvery fish. Photo supplied.
“There were a few on the rocks that looked like they were trying to escape the water,” Reeves said. Photo supplied.

Thousands of dead fish have been discovered at Pine Harbour in Beachlands.

Local Mandy Reeves chanced upon them on Tuesday, but had noticed the smell while going for a walk on Monday.

“I could smell it from a distance,” Reeves says. “It’s a very pungent and sulphate smell.”

She says there were “thousands” scattered across the water. A few on the rocks “looked like they were trying to escape the water,” she says.

Wendy McDonald, the acting director of Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Diagnostics and Surveillance, told the Times they are investigating.

“MPI Aquatic and Environment Health investigators are looking into the report from a member of the public that a large amount of dead fish has been found at Pine Harbour Marina,” McDonald says.

“We take New Zealand bio security very seriously. We have been in contact with DOC (Department of Conservation) and the regional council.”

McDonald says the fish are most likely a mixture of anchovies or pilchards and are important species for terns and penguins.

“There is no notification algal blooms or spill events that we are aware of,” she says.

The fish samples have been submitted to the National Animal Health Laboratory for testing for the presence of exotic disease organisms, McDonald says.

Reeves has also sent several fish samples to Animal Health Laboratory. “Hopefully I will learn the outcome,” Reeves says.

This is not the first occasion of multiple dead fish this year.

In January, low oxygen and high temperatures were said to have caused the deaths of hundreds of eels and trout in Silverstream, Dunedin.

In February, it was reported that hundreds of fish were found dead in a Dunedin estuary. The cause of death was theorised to be down to sunny weather which led to uninhabitable conditions.