Dead in the water

THE Chinese Tribute Gardens are a place of peace, pagodas and, in recent weeks, rotting fish.

Young local Linda Hwang visits the gardens daily and was surprised to find familiar ducks, swans and cranes swimming with a smelly new friend.

"One of my dogs, who I walk here everyday, had sussed it out," she said. "He was probably drawn by the smell more than anything."

"He wanted to get it and was dragging on the lead.”

The fish, an orange two-footer bleached by the sun, is one of the 500 to 1000 estimated to have died in the waters of the gardens and nearby Chinaman's Dam. 

Ms Hwang spotted the scaly mess on Monday morning, flipping it with a stick and sending it from the shore.

"I didn't want somebody else, maybe a child, to touch it," she said. "It could be dreadfully full of bacteria."

Young Council Director of Planning, Environment and Strategic Services Craig Filmer said the sudden deaths were likely due to a spike in water temperature.

"We couldn't see any pollutants and don't know of any incidents that could have caused it," he said. "We've had a chat with the fisheries doctor, who supplies the area, and it seems a quick temperature change can cause things like this to happen."

Mr Filmer said most of the affected fish were small, with only a handful of larger breeds succumbing to the heat.

"The majority of them were two to four inches," he said. "[But] it's affecting fish from the smallest shrimp to bigger fish like carp."

The heat has also seen the water-level around the gardens and dam rapidly decline, something Mr Filmer said was far from unexpected.

"It's not uncommon for that billabong (pictured) to dry up in summer," he said. "The spring water that naturally feeds that dam probably isn't replenishing as fast as the evaporation is depleting it."

Council fished most of the dead from the water early last week, Mr Filmer affirming the shire's commitment to the area.

"We are constantly looking at ways of improving the gardens," he said. "It's one of our top tourist draws, as well as a respectful tribute to our sister-city relationship with Lanzhou [in China]."

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