Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Cold kills huge barramundi

IT'S enough to make any barramundi fanatic reach for a hanky.

Thousands of dead tropical fish – some more than a metre long – floating to the surface of Lake Moondarra, Mount Isa's main water supply.
Authorities are blaming Queensland's big chill on the mass fish deaths, which have local anglers fearing the worst.

George Fortune, president of the Mount Isa Fish Stocking Group, said about 2000 fish had died in July.

"It's been unusually cold for unusually long, and they just can't tolerate the low temperatures for any length of time," Mr Fortune said. "The barramundi come into the shallow parts of the dam to try to get warm, but they get caught up in the shallows, dying of the cold weather."

The cold snap affecting the whole state has seen the mercury drop to as low as 3.2C in Mount Isa this month. And the fish deaths have forced authorities to grapple with another unwanted problem: disposing of the carcasses.

Big pits have been dug to bury the barramundi, along with large numbers of sleepy cod and catfish. Mr Fortune said barramundi stocks in Lake Moondarra were down by as much as 40 per cent.