Tens of thousands of dead fish have washed up on the banks of a lake in a protected nature reserve in northern Greece after pollution, high temperatures and drought conditions caused a severe drop in water levels.
State environmental officials said Thursday that the water level at Lake Koroneia has dropped by more than 70% percent in the past three years, to 80 centimeters (31 inches), with the decline triggering the death of carp, sunfish, bleak and other freshwater fish.
Dimitra Bobori, an associate biology professor at the University of Thessaloniki and the lake’s senior administrator, said dissolved oxygen concentrations in the water had fallen below a critical level, accelerating the deaths over the last week.
The lake, 30 kilometres (18 miles) from the city of Thessaloniki, is known as a rich habitat and a key migratory bird lane and is a member of the European environmental protection network Natura.
After several warnings calling on Greece to better protect the lake, the European Commission brought the matter to the European Court of Justice in 2011.
Ecologists and the Greek birdwatchers association blame the pollution on industries and agricultural businesses that flout environmental standards.
Bird life has also been seriously affected.
In 2007, 200 birds were found dead on the shores of the lake after a bacterium outbreak.
But the biggest disaster occurred in 2004 when 4,500 birds died after the appearance of the toxin Clostridium botulinum, which develops in stagnant or polluted water, causing the disease botulism.
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