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Massive cleanup as dead fish wash up at Bandar Al Rowdha
October 13, 2019 | 12:43 AM
by Times News Service
 
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Muscat: A massive cleanup operation is underway at Marina Bandar Al Rawdha, after hundreds of thousands of dead fish washed up on its shores on Friday.

The incident took place on Friday morning, and an alarming number of fish quickly filled up the boundaries of the marina in just a few hours. Although the fish began dying off by Friday evening, government teams began cleanup and rescue operations as soon as they were notified of the situation.

An official from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs said on this matter, “We have reached out to specialists and experts, who will visit the location. In the meantime, the local municipality has visited the area and has begun cleaning up.”

According to Dr Sergey Dobretsov, director of the Centre of Excellence for Marine Biotechnology at Sultan Qaboos University, these fish had perished because of a lack of oxygen in the water at night time.





“This has happened because such massive number of fish require large amounts of oxygen to respire, and during the night, when algae and other aquatic plants cannot produce oxygen through photosynthesis, the level of oxygen dropped dramatically and this caused the mortality of the fish,” explained Dobretsov, who is also an associate professor at the Department of Marine Sciences and Fisheries at SQU. “They could not escape from the marina because the marina is quite shallow and an enclosed space, and small fish such as sardines cannot easily escape the marina. It is also possible that big fish like tuna, could have prevented the sardines from escaping.”



Dead fish become food for bacteria that decompose them, and with more food available, the bacteria increase in number and use the dissolved oxygen in the water. The decrease in the oxygen levels mean many aquatic species are unable to survive in an oxygen-deficient environment.

“In this case, the when dead and decomposing fish are present in the water, the quality of the water drops down dramatically and this affects the whole ecosystem,” added Dobretsov, who serves as a UNESCO chair in Marine Biotechnology, and is the president of the European Society for Marine Biotechnology.

“Those organisms that can survive this are able to grow in this low oxygen environment, since they already live in the marina. It will take between several weeks to a month for the ecosystem to return to normal. However, when I say normal, I mean the state that is normal for an ecosystem which has a sudden drop of oxygen at night, not one that has plenty of it,” he added.

Ahmed Al Mashani who has membership at Marina Bandar Al Rawdha, and operates a tour company there, said: "This occurs when large fish chase sardines, which leads them to enter into the marina in large numbers and they get stuck there. After a period of time the oxygen level in the water decreased, in this case, because of the large number of fish present, and this led to their death."

Other tour guides who were operating in the marina at the time provided Times of Oman with eyewitness accounts of what had taken place over the weekend.

“Massive quantities of small fish came all at once inside Marina Bandar Al Rawdha. It was a huge amount of fish,” said the manager of a boat tour company. “There were many hundreds of thousands of them. The fish on the surface did not get oxygen, nor did the fish that were in the water underneath. A lack of oxygen caused this. Inside the marina, there is a limit to the number of fish that can be accommodated. The fish covered the entire surface of the water. I was present at the marina when this happened. The fish came into the marina in the morning, and they began dying later that evening.”

“There were a lot of people at the marina,” he added. “Many people actually collected some fish and went home. The smell was really bad, because when fish begin to rot, the smell is quite strong, and in this case, it was worse because there were simply so many of them.

"The authorities and the management are removing it, moment, but that this happened is no-one’s fault, really, it is simply the way of nature. Even then, they also have their capacities so they can only remove so many at a time.”

An employee at another tour company added, “I was there at the marina when this happened. I was really surprised to see this happening, and many other people were as well. At once, all the fish began to suddenly come inside the marina. The smell was really bad.”Muscat: A massive cleanup operation is underway at Marina Bandar Al Rowdha, after hundreds of thousands of dead fish washed up on its shores on Friday.

The incident took place on Friday morning, and an alarming number of fish quickly filled up the boundaries of the marina in just a few hours. Although the fish began dying off by Friday evening, government teams began cleanup and rescue operations as soon as they were notified of the situation.

An official from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs said on this matter, “We have reached out to specialists and experts, who will visit the location. In the meantime, the local municipality has visited the area and has begun cleaning up.”

According to Dr Sergey Dobretsov, director of the Centre of Excellence for Marine Biotechnology at Sultan Qaboos University, these fish had perished because of a lack of oxygen in the water at night time.

“This has happened because such massive number of fish require large amounts of oxygen to respire, and during the night, when algae and other aquatic plants cannot produce oxygen through photosynthesis, the level of oxygen drops dramatically and this causes the mortality of fish,” explained Dobretsov, who is also an associate professor at the Department of Marine Sciences and Fisheries at SQU.

Dr Sergey Dobretsov said, “They could not escape from the marina because the marina is quite shallow and an enclosed space, and small fish such as sardines cannot easily escape the marina. It is also possible that big fish like tuna, could have prevented the sardines from escaping.”

Dead fish become food for bacteria that decompose them, and with more food available, the bacteria increase in number and use the dissolved oxygen in the water. The decrease in the oxygen levels mean many aquatic species are unable to survive in an oxygen-deficient environment.

“In this case, the when dead and decomposing fish are present in the water, the quality of the water drops down dramatically and this affects the whole ecosystem,” added Dobretsov, who serves as a UNESCO chair in Marine Biotechnology, and is the president of the European Society for Marine Biotechnology.

“Those organisms that can survive this are able to grow in this low oxygen environment, since they already live in the marina. It will take between several weeks to a month for the ecosystem to return to normal. However, when I say normal, I mean the state that is normal for an ecosystem which has a sudden drop of oxygen at night, not one that has plenty of it,” he added.

Ahmed Al Mashani who has membership at Bandar Al Rowdha, and operates a tour company there, said: “This occurs when large fish chase sardines, which leads them to enter into the marina in large numbers and they get stuck there. After a period of time the oxygen level in the water decreased, in this case, because of the large number of fish present, and this led to their death.”

Other tour guides who were operating in the marina at the time provided Times of Oman with eyewitness accounts of what had taken place over the weekend.

“Massive quantities of small fish came all at once inside Marina Bandar Al Rowdha. It was a huge amount of fish,” said the manager of a boat tour company. “There were many hundreds of thousands of them. The fish on the surface did not get oxygen, nor did the fish that were in the water underneath. A lack of oxygen caused this. Inside the marina, there is a limit to the number of fish that can be accommodated. The fish covered the entire surface of the water. I was present at the marina when this happened. The fish came into the marina in the morning, and they began dying later that evening.”

“There were a lot of people at the marina,” he added.

“Many people actually collected some fish and went home. The smell was really bad, because when fish begin to rot, the smell is quite strong, and in this case, it was worse because there were simply so many of them,” he further said.

“The authorities and the management are removing it, moment, but that this happened is no-one’s fault, really, it is simply the way of nature. Even then, they also have their capacities so they can only remove so many at a time.” An employee at another tour company added, “I was there at the marina when this happened. I was really surprised to see this happening, and many other people were as well. At once, all the fish began to suddenly come inside the marina. The smell was really bad.”



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