Harbour pollution sparks fears for species

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December 28 2007 at 11:29AM
By Matthew Savides

Pollution in Durban harbour, which killed hundreds of fish on Wednesday, has spread over several square kilometres, heightening fears that more fish, animals and their habitats could be affected.

The strong, sulphur-like smell that has blanketed the area since Wednesday morning was still noticeable on Thursday.

Lin Gravelet-Blondin, Deputy Director of Water Quality Management in the Water Affairs department, said on Wednesday that only 10 fish had died, but he admitted on Thursday that the situation was "much worse than initially thought".

During a visit to the affected area, near the Bluff Yacht Club, he said "hundreds" of fish had died or were dying.




Evidence suggested that the toxin was hydrogen sulphide, which is toxic to humans and animals.

Gravelet-Blondin said there was an "unnatural" amount of organic waste in the water that could have begun reacting chemically because of the heat and direct sunlight hitting the water in the past few days.

The results of tests done on Thursday, which could confirm the theory, were expected in the next few days. "It is not natural to have this amount of organic waste in the water," said Gravelet-Blondin.

It appeared that the death of hundreds of fish close to the yacht club on Monday was linked to the latest incident. A link to the death of thousands of fish at Wilson's Wharf on Friday was also being investigated.

Mercury readers reacted angrily to the story published on Thursday, with most calling for action against the individual or company responsible for the pollution, or the dumping of the organic waste which caused it.

Speaking on Wednesday, eThekwini Municipal Manager Michael Sutcliffe said the first deaths recorded at Wilson's Wharf were not due to toxins, but rather natural substances that were in the water. He said there were several possibilities being probed, but would not say what these were until reports were handed to him.

Environmental affairs department spokesperson Mbulelo Baloyi said the department would only get involved if asked to do so. He said the Water affairs department, National Ports Authority and eThekwini officials were handling the investigation.
 

leslie hempel

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sad, i wonder if it will ever be the same.
 
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eThekwini Municipal Manager Michael Sutcliffe

He's more interested in changing street names when clearly there is something diabolically wrong in the harbour. I wonder how hard they are trying to get to the bottom of the problem.

The water pickup for Ushaka Marine World is pretty close to the harbour mouth :(
 
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I can (but cannot be quoted .......) Essentially what has happened is that there was an incident on Thursday evening or early Friday where something caused the oxygen levels in the Wilson's Wharf basin to plummet (measurements that I took showed that there was actually no oxygen at all in the water inside the basin). From the measurements that I took it would seem that the source of the problem was something that came down the stormwater canal that drains into the harbour immediately to the south of the Wilsons Wharf basin. The latest incident was caused by something that came down the Amanzimyama Canal which drains into the harbour up at Bayhead. Both incidents resulted in a significant fish kills and also affected a number of other species (sand prawns, crabs, polycheates etc). The harbour will recover to what it was before the incidents, probably quite slowly though. The CSIR and Metro are investigating to try to determine the source of the pollution but I don't hold out much hope as it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to try to trace the source of the pollution. Both incidents have probably been caused by some small business flushing something down the stormwater drains.
 
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The pollution is contained within the harbour. My reading show that the water is back to normal by the time it leaves the entrance channel. Collecting water outside of the port should be OK
 
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My guess would be yes it is possible but I would get confirmation from the guru's on this
 

Mekaeel

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Thanks kevin, a supid question of the topic, but when collecting fresh water can "white spot" be transferred to a tank?
yes it can.always try and get the water temperature up to the same temp as your tank water,this will help in reducing the risk of whitespots.fish are sensative to sudden temperature changes.also try and use the water up in less than 2 hours after collecting.
oh by the way im no Guru
 
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I am reading a marine book where they suggest sea water should be stored in darkness for 2-3 weeks then filter off the dead plankton etc. Apparently this stops any nasty organisms or disease being introduce into the reef system but doesn't change the chemical elements of the sea water.
 

Mekaeel

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I am reading a marine book where they suggest sea water should be stored in darkness for 2-3 weeks then filter off the dead plankton etc. Apparently this stops any nasty organisms or disease being introduce into the reef system but doesn't change the chemical elements of the sea water.
yes thats true,but if the water is used up in 1-2 hours,theres chances of little/no die off.you putting in fresh plankton.when storing water i agree on your post.also when using that water up,dont use the last 5cm of water left as this is where all the die off sits
 
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yes thats true,but if the water is used up in 1-2 hours,theres chances of little/no die off.you putting in fresh plankton.when storing water i agree on your post.also when using that water up,dont use the last 5cm of water left as this is where all the die off sits
So if I ship up some Indian Ocean to Joburg, I should go with what the book says.
 

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