Dead fish worry tourists and residents in the Canary Islands

by Lorraine Williamson
dead fish

LAS PALMAS DE GRAN CANARIA – Last weekend, dead fish were found along the coast of Mogán, in the Canary Islands. These washed up on popular tourist beaches in Gran Canaria such as Puerto Rico, Amadores, Taurito and Playa de Mogán. 

Researchers and the local government are faced with a conundrum. Similar observations have also been made in the north of the island, in the capital Las Palmas. Some suggestions as to the cause of the dead fish range from suspicions of untreated sewage being dumped into the sea, to the presence of algal blooms, which can be particularly harmful to certain fish species at unusually high water temperatures. This summer, water temperatures reached as high as 24°C at times, five degrees higher than expected. 

Impact on the maritime ecosystem 

Although the exact cause is still unknown, experts agree that sewage is likely not the only cause. However, it may play a role. In any case, the marine ecosystem is suffering from these events, and it appears that one fish species, the puffer fish, is particularly affected. 

Experts speak 

Alex Bramwell from Gran Canaria Info says: “These fish all appear to be Ocean Pufferfish, they have been washing up on Las Canteras for weeks. They were very rare in these waters until 2015, but since then schools of these fish have also been observed off the coast of El Hierro Island. Some appear to be suffering from some sort of parasite, suggesting they are not healthy. In addition, something happened this year that seems to only affect this species and is leading to mass mortality.” 

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Investigation started 

Researchers are busy unravelling the mysterious circumstances that led to this massive amount of dead fish. It is a worrying situation that not only affects the local ecosystem but also raises questions about the overall health of the ocean around the Canary Islands. 

The local government and experts call on tourists and residents to immediately report any unusual sightings. This helps collect data that may be important for the ongoing investigation. 

Previous article: Hundreds of dead fish wash up in Andalucia

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