It’s all fishy
THE stunning Dal Lake, famous across the world for its unmistakeable beauty, actually has bad breath.
Well, almost. It stinks and has thousands of little fish drifting around lifeless. Residents around the Dal Lake claim to have never seen so many dead fish floating in the lake. According to officials, the deaths are the result of thermal stratification. Last month, many of the tiny fish were discovered floating and dead in different areas of the renowned Dal Lake. The residents of the lake blame dead fish for the foul odour in the water.
It’s no news that the water in the lake is getting increasingly polluted. Over the years, Dal Lake’s water quality has gotten worse. Although the lake keeps getting continuously cleaned by the authorities, the condition of the water has not improved. According to experts, cleaning up the complete lake will take a few more years.
The LCMA (Lake Conservation and Management Authority) recently, on the directions of the Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh High Court, submitted a report in the compliance that toxicology is a real factor and a very common cause of the killing of the fish. The use of pesticides is a common reason, and the use of pesticides and herbicides in the floating gardens and gardens nearby cannot be ruled out as a reason that has led to making the Dal waters toxic. As per a report presented on May 22 this year before the J&K High Court about the recent mass deaths of fish in the Dal Lake, hundreds of dead fish were spotted floating above the water around the edges of Oberio Ghat, SKICC corners, and Nishat Pipe Line Bund (Nishat Basin of Dal Lake).
According to the study, water samples, specimens of small fish (fingerlings) of Crossochellius Diplochellus, also known as Kashmir Latia, and several specimens of Carassius Carassius, also known as Crucian Carp, were gathered for analysis on May 25.
The report notes that even in cases where the conditions that contribute to fish kill are known to exist, it is difficult to predict when the fish will die. However, it also notes that fish are an incredibly adaptable animal, but for sensitive fish, sudden fluctuations in water quality and thermal stratification results in mortality even though the tolerance limit of fish varies from species to species.
The article states that fish kill is an annual occurrence in farmed fish ponds and natural water bodies, and it can be caused by a number of factors, the most prevalent of which is suffocation due to heat stratification.
While the report acknowledges that a number of other environmental issues, such as pollution, ecological hypoxia, and oxygen depletion, may occasionally be the cause of this condition, it also reveals that algal blooms, high temperatures, infections, chemical poaching, and underwater explosions may also contribute to it. Sometimes the reasons behind the occurrence of numerous fish deaths remain a mystery.
Fish and fingerling mortality arises from the use of pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers, and chemicals, which also change the chemical characteristics of water. The report claims that sudden temperature changes or prolonged high temperatures can cause environmental stress, which can cause fish to die.
Since cooler water has a tendency to hold more oxygen than warmer water, prolonged high temperatures can cause the oxygen level in a body of water to drop. The most frequent reason for fish deaths is low oxygen levels.
Hydraulic Engineering Expert and Environmentalist Ajaz Rasool says: “Yes, there is widespread fish mortality. Currently, we are observing a fish kill of fingerlings along the shoreline between Oberoi Ghat and Nishat Pipeline Bund”.
He goes on to explain that the biological name for these fingerlings is Crossocheilus Diplocheilus, and they are known as Kashmir Latia in English. These fingerlings are quite vulnerable, and we frequently see fish kills of this kind in the Dal and Nigeen lakes every year. The lack of dissolved oxygen in lake water caused by point sources of pollution entering the water, algal blooms in the lake, or any other similar factor that may arise due to improperly handled maintenance procedures of private or public Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) around the lake could also be the cause of the fish kill. According to him, the Dal Lake is currently at a high level since outflows to the River Jhelum through the Chuntikul Channel have temporarily ceased because the river’s water level is higher than the lake’s.
Fauzana Mir, an Environmental Science student from University of Kashmir says; “It’s very disheartening to see how people are treating our natural resources. I chose to go into this particular field to help save the environment but after reading about such news and witnessing such degradation of our environment, I don’t believe that by the time I finish my course, there would be any environment left to clean. I come to the university from Foreshore Road but I cannot tell you how disgusted I feel when I see people throwing garbage into the Dal and it stinks so bad after rainfall that you can’t even sit and look at the lake which actually used to bring peace and calm to the people once”.
This needs to be thought about and taken up.