Around 50 short finned eels were found dead or dying in a stormwater drain earlier this week. The eels showed visible signs of burns which could have been caused by chemicals washed into the stormwater system.
“We’re encouraging Rotorua residents to be more aware of the consequences of polluting stormwater drains” explained DOC Ranger Caraline Abbott. “The drains around residential areas are only for rain water. Anything that is washed into these drains can have serious effects on the species in the lakes – including native species and trout.”
“On average, short finned eels live to around 18-23 years of age and are relatively pollution tolerant’ says Mrs Abbott. “It’s such a shame that so many of these taonga were unnecessarily killed in such a painful way”
The eels appeared to have suffered from chemical burns and these could be the result of a spill of a chemical like chlorine, or cement wash-off which has a very high pH.
“Similar incidents have occurred in the Rotorua district over the years but with proactive monitoring of all commercial sites, and a well-publicised 24-hour Pollution Control Response service, these incidents have now become few and far between” explains Rotorua Lakes Council’s Senior Pollution Control Officer Jacqui Mackle.
“If local residents see anything going down drains or in the waterways that doesn’t look right, isn’t just rain water, or something they wouldn’t wish to swim in, I’d encourage them to call our Pollution Control team at Rotorua Lakes Council, anytime, any day, on 07 348 4199.”