Poisonous algae were the reason for the death of fish in the Oder

Fish kills in the Oder

A toxic substance was probably responsible for the environmental catastrophe.

(Photo: dpa)

Warsaw In a report, Polish scientists have confirmed the thesis that a poisonous alga Fish kills in the Oder triggered. “The reason for the fish deaths was most likely the toxic effect of an algal bloom,” said Agnieszka Kolada, aquatic biologist from the Institute for environmental Protection on Thursday in Warsaw at the presentation of the preliminary report. The Polish Ministry of the Environment commissioned a group of 49 scientists from 14 research institutes to Causes of the environmental disaster to get to the bottom.

In July and August, masses of dead fish were discovered and collected in the Oder on the Polish and German sides. According to Kolada, on the Polish side it was 249 tons.

After a lengthy search for the causes of the fish kills, water samples in both Poland as well as in Germany the algae species Prymnesium parvum have been detected. It can form a deadly poison for fish.

In Poland, a total of 221 water samples were taken from different sections of the Oder between August 12 and September 8, Kolada said. Prymnesium parvum was detected in 78 percent of these samples.

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This type of algae had never been noticed in Poland before. The findings from examining dead fish and mussels also indicated that the algal toxin was the cause of a “sudden, quick” death.

Warning for years to come

A number of factors favored the algal bloom, the report said. It didn’t rain for almost two months in midsummer, which led to a low water level in the Oder. The water temperature rose at times to up to 27 degrees. The low water level also caused the salt concentration to increase.

“So the alga found conditions that allowed it to develop,” Kolada said. The scientists warn that the massive flowering of Prymnesium parvum in the Oder and other rivers in Poland could repeat itself in the coming years. The German Federal Ministry for the Environment wants to publish the final results of the German side on Friday.

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