The Daily Voice can reveal that thousands of fish on the Cape Flats have died of herpes.
Shocked Zeekoevlei residents were greeted by the sight of hundreds of dead visse on the banks of the Zeekoevlei dam on Friday morning.
Standing among dozens of residents taking videos and photos, resident Hoosain Kader said people who have been fishing in the dam for years were recently banned from doing so after a new housing development went up in the area.
“Something must be in the water, because this is the first time I’ve ever seen anything like this,” says Hoosain, 40, who has lived in the area for over 23 years.
The City of Cape Town says it is collecting over 5 000, or six tons, of carp which died in the dam due to herpes.
Only carp has been affected and the City urged residents not to eat the dead fish.
However, the water has been deemed safe for swimming.
Candice Haskins, Aquatic Ecologist at the City’s Stormwater and Sustainability branch, says: “At this stage, the single species nature of this incident points to a disease incident and not a pollution or algal toxin or deoxygenation event.
“Asieff Khan, who is the manager of the False Bay Nature Reserve/Zeekoevlei, is contacting the State Vet so that the presumed cause, ‘Koi Herpes Virus’, which affects this species [carp], can be confirmed,” says Haskins.
She said test samples were taken from the dam as well as the Big and Little Lotus Rivers, which flow into Zeekoevlei.
“The fish bodies are being transported to the City’s Vissershok landfill site,” she adds.
Khan added that the reserve has not been closed, only the section where the dead fish are while the City cleans up.
“The water is safe – no toxins or pollutants were detected, except in the area where the fish died, and that’s because there are still dead fish in the water,” he said.
Meanwhile, carp deaths have also been reported at another unconnected system, the Keysers River in the Westlake/Zandvlei area.
Haskins adds: “Fish kills often do occur at this time of the year [change of seasons], when water levels are low, temperatures are high and fish sometimes become stressed during breeding.
“They also may pass on infectious disease due to the grouping of large numbers of adult fish together.”