Mass fish die-off

Report large numbers of dead fish or other aquatic animals to the 24 hour Fishwatch hotline on 1800 065 522.

What to report

Important information to include:

  • location of dead fish, including longitude and latitude if known
  • your name and contact details
  • the species of organisms involved or a description if unknown
  • the number of dead organisms
  • size of area affected
  • when it occurred, if known
  • current and expected weather conditions
  • tide details
  • any water discolouration.

Note, animals and birds – or natural tidal movement in coastal areas – will generally clean up dead fish that remain from fish kills. During blackwater events, dead fish should also decompose rapidly due to the natural bacteria present in blackwater.

Collecting samples

Samples can be taken for further examination. Follow the guide below when collecting samples.

Fish/aquatic organisms

When collecting samples:

  • collect visibly sick or dying organisms
  • store in a plastic bag and place in ice slurry
  • frozen samples may be acceptable in some cases
  • avoid contact with samples on unprotected skin
  • contact Fishwatch for instructions on delivering the sample.

Water samples

When collecting water samples:

  • collect samples in a clean glass or plastic container
  • rinse the container several times in the water you are going to collect
  • fill the container approximately 2/3 full and seal
  • store at room temperature except in extreme heat when it should be refrigerated but not frozen
  • contact Fishwatch for instructions on delivering the sample.

Diagnostic testing

Gribbles VETLAB tests and run diagnostics on samples for aquaculture and fishing industries.

Gribbles VETLAB contact details are:

33 Flemington Street
Glenside, South Australia 5065.
Phone: (08) 8202 3300

More information

Page Last Reviewed: 19 Feb 2015
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