Even Yabbies Are Escaping The Murray-Darling, While Carp Nibble On Rotten Fish
The situation has become so dire along the lower Darling river that even the yabbies are preparing to escape in search of more oxygenated waters.
Australia has watched on in horror as thousands upon thousands of fish have washed up dead in recent days, the second massive fish kill in a matter of weeks.
Now, new footage -- taken by Menindee resident Scott Martin -- has shown dead shrimps lying nestled on the river's bank, and dozens of yabbies waiting to make the "yabbie march" to freedom.
"You can see how bad it is," Martin said in the video, scanning across the site of hundreds of dead fish, mostly bony breams, that are becoming an all-too-familiar sight.
"That's the base of a river system," Martin continued.
That's a food source for all our natives. Yabbies. Shrimp. Baby bonys. They say it's going to take years to come back. Well, if fish are going to grow to the size they are, they've got to have something to eat. I don't think there's going to be much left for them to eat -- if there's anything left at all.
In other photos Martin sent to 10 daily, carp feed off rotting fish floating on the water's surface.
"They are still rotting, and as the carp feed on them most sink and continue to pollute the weir pool," he told 10 daily.
Dr. Martin Thoms, a professor of river science at the University of New England, said it was normal for yabbies to start looking for new water when their environment became too stressful.
"Yabbies have a really amazing ability to survive drought and pretty harsh conditions," he told 10 daily.
"They can burrow into wet soil and stay there for long periods of time, but if conditions start to get really rough, they'll start to march across the countryside looking for new water."
Unfortunately, just because the yabbies might well survive doesn't paint a good picture for the river system at large.
They're an important part of the overall food web -- the system of interlocking and interdependent food chains.
"You've got major disruptions to the river channel habitat, major disruptions to the food resources... what we've got is a whole legacy of impacts that are now making these fish go belly up," Thoms said.
"We're at a very, very important tipping point."
Mere hours after Martin filmed the carp nibbling on their dead and rotten brethren, the South Australian royal commission handed down its scathing finding into the Murray-Darling Basin management plan.
It accused federal officials of committing gross negligence, maladministration, and unlawful acts over its $13 billion plan, "completely ignoring" climate change projections.
"As an administrative decision, it is indefensible," said Commissioner Bret Walker SC's report.
For residents such as Scott Martin, it might prompt some much-needed federal action, who described the current actions of all politicians as "pitiful".
"They've only shown up to get their faces on camera so it looks like they're doing something," he said.
"It's all a grab at votes, trying to convince the people in the cities ... there aren't enough votes out here to be worried about."
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