Hundreds of eels die after massive algal bloom

Posted 23/02/2018

Radio NZ Website

Hundreds of eels have died, along with carp and flying insects, in the wake of a massive algal bloom at Lake Omapere near Kaikohe.

Blue-green algae in the shallow lake erupted last Saturday, turning the Utakura River into a frothing green soup.

Neville Lewis who farms near Lake Omapere couldn't believe his eyes when he checked the river last Saturday.

The water spewing from the lake outlet had turned a glacial blue topped with a white foul-smelling foam.

The river turned a bilious green, as he watched.

"It happened so quickly and it was so dramatic, to see it happening - it was changing before your eyes," he said.

Overnight, the cyanobacteria population in the lake had exploded.

And the result was an algal bloom that's been shunted all the way downriver to the Hokianga Harbour.

Lloyd Brennan who farms next to the lake, said the eels and grass carp near the outlet didn't stand a chance.

"What was in the water, the bloom coming out, it looked as the eels and carp couldn't breathe.

"I saw eels up on the bank with their gills going hard out."

Mr Lewis' wife Linda said downstream as well, dead eels were everywhere.

"It's just so sad, you know; they struggled for life; dead, stranded on rocks and now with them decaying in the river, the stench..." she said.

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