Sudden temp fluctuation in Dal causes mass fish deaths, raising ecological concerns

Srinagar: Fishermen show numbers of dead fishes in Dal Lake, in Srinagar. Officials said the reason behind the fish mortality was the fluctuation in temperature while the local residents argued over increased water level of the lake and pollution.

Suhail Bhat

Srinagar, May 26: A sudden temperature fluctuation in Dal Lake has resulted in the death of thousands of fish due to oxygen depletion, triggering concerns about the ecological balance and prompting demands for immediate action.
On Friday morning, local fishermen were shocked to discover a large number of dead fish floating on the surface of Dal Lake. The incident quickly gained attention, raising fears of potential chemical dumping into the lake. Social media platforms amplified these concerns, with people offering various theories to explain the fish deaths. However, officials clarified that this occurrence is a natural phenomenon known as “summer kill.”
Abdul Majid Tak, the Additional Director of Fisheries Kashmir, explained that such incidents have happened before and are caused by the depletion of oxygen due to temperature fluctuations. “It is a natural phenomenon, and there is no need to panic,” he said.
Tak identified the fish species as Gambusia, a weed fish that is not consumed by people but is found in large quantities in the lake. He also confirmed that there is no evidence of poisoning or chemical toxicity in the water.
However, the Dal Dewellers, in the interiors of the lake, disputed the official explanation, claiming that excessive de-weeding and the dumping of sewage have severely impacted the lake’s ecosystem. They argued that if temperature fluctuations were solely responsible, fish deaths would also occur in the lake’s interior. “If they are claiming it is due to temperature, why did it not happen in the interiors of Dal Lake? The reason is that they have been excessively de-weeding the lake for the past year using machines, which has severely affected the environment,” Nasir Ahmad, a resident, said.
He highlighted the rise in water levels as another factor contributing to the situation: “The authorities have intentionally maintained the water level two feet higher than the normal level for several months, which is unprecedented during this time of the year,” he said.
Some blamed the addition of chemicals to sewage water before it is released into the lake for the fish deaths. They urged authorities to close the drains carrying the contaminated water and investigate the issue, as the same water is treated and supplied to people for drinking.
“We are worried that the contaminated water might find its way into our taps, leading to widespread waterborne diseases. The authorities must take immediate action,” expressed a concerned resident.
Some people have raised concerns about pollutants being discharged from houseboats and the dumping of waste materials into the lake. “There should be proper monitoring of sewage being dumped into the lake,” another local said.