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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Monday 4 January 2021

Update to Fish Kill Notification for Cleaverville to Cape Lambert, near Karratha

Update to Fish Kill Notification
- 4 January, 2021 at 12.30pm

Investigations have concluded into this fish kill reported between Cleaverville and Cape Lambert near Karratha.

Onsite checks by staff from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) and Rio Tinto did not locate any dead fish or algal blooms. However, further reports were received of yellow-brown blooms of the naturally-occurring alga Trichodesmium (sea sawdust) in the general area.

Thank you to the reporter, DBCA, Rio Tinto, the City of Karratha and everyone else who worked in partnership to investigate this issue.

Fish kills should be reported to FishWatch. This Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development service operates 24 hours a day and 7 days a week on 1800 815 507.

Fish Kill Notification
- 29 December, 2020 

Officers from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) are responding to a reported fish kill between Cleaverville and Cape Lambert, in the Pilbara.

The report indicated many small fish, mostly blue sardines but also some whiting, washed up and floating along approximately 20 kilometres of coastline in the area.

A dead turtle was also reported but it is unclear if this is connected to the fish kill.

There have been big tides in the area, the waters are warm and yellow-brown blooms of the alga Trichodesmium (sea sawdust) have already been observed this year south of the area. 

While these conditions could be related to the reported fish kill, the cause remains unknown at this stage.

    Fish kill reported near Cleaverville (photo credit: Jonathon Smith)

Updates will be issued, when further information is available. In the mean-time people are reminded to stay safe around fish kills. We urge people to follow the general Department of Health advice:

  • not to swim in areas of water with large numbers of dead and decomposing fish because they may contain high levels of bacteria and have an objectionable odour;
  • not to fish in water with large numbers of dead fish;
  • not to handle, collect, relocate or use dead fish for bait or consumption because of the risk of high levels of bacteria, and the potential for infection through handling or ingestion; and
  • not to allow pets and other animals to come into contact with dead or decomposing fish either in the water or on shore.

Anyone who has handled dead or dying fish and experiences any inflammation on their hands around any cuts or abrasions should see a doctor.

Fish kills should be reported to our FishWatch 24-hour hotline on 1800 815 507.

DPIRD is responsible for responding to fish kill events that occur in ocean environments.

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation manages investigations on fish kills that occur in estuaries, rivers and naturally occurring inland water bodies.

In both circumstances, DPIRD’s laboratories carry out testing of any fish samples assessed as suitable for that purpose to determine if diseases are present. This can take some time and it may not be possible to identify a single definitive cause, but every effort is made to establish probable factors.

More information on fish kills can be found on the Fisheries website at

Last modified: 4/01/2021 12:40 PM

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