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Thousands of dead fish wash up on Spain’s Mar Menor in Murcia

Dead fish in the Marchamalo canal, La manga del Mar Menor, Murcia, Spain, August 20, 2021.

Concerns of an environmental catastrophe as thousands of dead fish of varying sizes wash up across the coast of Spain’s Mar Menor.

Many marine species have been found dead along Murcia’s beaches, causing a storm of anger and a wave of political concern for the already severely impeded tourism industry as locals and support groups demand solutions to prevent further destruction.

For the 6th day running thousands of fish have beached or are seen floating along the Gola de La Manga, the stretch of water linking the Mar Menor to the Mediterranean.

Beach cleaners and volunteers have worked tirelessly to clear the corpses from the beaches of La Manga, Cala del Pino ,Puerto Bello, Islas Menores and Los Nietos.

Environment officials have ruled out an outbreak of the deadly anoxia, where the water becomes overheated and the fish suffocate due to lack of oxygen, but locals fear the mass devastation of 2019 is repeating itself.

The fingers are pointing at the effect of global warming, where water temperatures in the region have substantially increased over the past weeks as Spain basks in summer heat, with the last 14-days high reaching 37 degrees.

Javier Gilabert, professor of Chemical Engineering a member of the Scientific Committee for the Mar Menor said “oxygen depends on the temperature. The more degrees there are, the less oxygen the water has” adding that a naturally occurring “brown soup” is occurring in the region due to a “high concentration of chlorophyll”, common as water temperatures increase.

The devastating losses come after a week of local protests as over 50 small vessels set sail to encourage people to sign a petition to achieve a legal undertaking for the protection of the Mar Menor, Europe’s largest saltwater lagoon.

Those taking part in the demonstrations wore dark clothes and flew black flags, with a plane flying over the beaches tailing a large banner reading “Let’s save the Mar Menor”.

Many signatures are still required before the Popular Legislative Initiate (ILP) petition to protect the Mar Menor can be presented. Please sign the online petition here.

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