The Ministry of Ecology believes that the fish die-off at Mingechevir reservoir took place because of an unexpected and strange rise in water temperature
In a video shot at the edge of the Mingechevir reservoir by the Kura river (the largest reservoir in the Caucasus), one can see an enormous amount of dead fish, mostly bream. In the video comments, social media users accused the Ministry of Ecology and the local authorities of losing control over the ecological situation in the region.
The Ministry of Ecology reacted by promising to conduct an investigation. They analyzed the conditions of the water in the reservoir, but no infection was found. However, the mass die-off was explained as an unexpected and strange increase in the water’s temperature, as high as 21 degrees Celsius attributed to recent hot weather. As a result, the alkaline balance was disturbed and oxygen levels were lower than normal (4-5 mg/liter while as opposed to 6 mg/liter).
The analysis was conducted by specialists from the Scientific Research Institute of Fisheries, who said that the fish are especially sensitive when it comes to changes in water temperature during spawning season which ranges from the end of March until May, and that in the last ten years the mass die-off of fish in many reservoirs of Azerbaijan has not been a rarity. These cases are often connected to hot conditions and a decrease in the quality of the water.
The largest hydro-electric station in Azerbaijan is located at the reservoir in Mingechevir. In February 2018, it was repaired and had its pipes and generator replaced. This is the only thing that has changed in the reservoir in the past year. However, neither the media nor social media has proposed a connection between this and the die-off of fish.
Some social media users were not convinced by the official explanation:
“And in summer, what happens to these fish? What, do they boil?”
“Poachers. They gutted them for caviar and threw the fish back in the water.”
This year, Azerbaijan had a very warm winter with very little snow. In May the air temperature was 3-4 degrees higher than normal.