HUNDREDS of fish have died in a stretch of Grantham canal, prompting emergency action by the Environment Agency (EA).
Fisheries officer Reuben Page led the rescue operation at the 200-metre stretch of water between Trent Road and Earlesfield Lane on Tuesday.
Amost 1,000 fish have died due to a rapid reduction in levels of dissolved oxygen in the water following the sudden hot weather. Normally, the temperature rises gradually and the fish would migrate.
Mr Page said: “Despite the fact that we have all enjoyed a beautiful, warm weekend, if you’re a fish with fins it’s not such a great place to be.
“We normally expect the water temperature to be about 16-18C at this time of year. It’s now between 22 and 24C.”
The EA was alerted to the incident on Tuesday morning after a member of the public reported floating fish in the water.
The sudden loss of oxygen in the water caused the fish to suffocate.
Clare Stimpson, 39, of Kestrel Court, saw several fish “gasping for air”.
She added: “It’s not a nice thing to see.
“We come out with bread when it’s gone stale to throw to the ducks, and enoy the wildlife. It’s horrible when this sort of thing happens.”
Only smaller fish, predominantly roach, have been killed, and it is hoped that the action being taken by the EA will keep those remaining alive.
Mr Page and his team are creating a chemical reaction in the water by pumping in hydrogen peroxide, which instantly produces dissolved oxygen.
He said: “This is not a major incident, but significant enough to get us out.
“No-one wants to see fish dying but in terms of the percentage of the population in this part of the water, about 5,000-6,000 fish in this stretch have been unaffected.
“Around the aeration device we’re using we’ve seen several hundreds of fish enjoying the benefit of dissolved oxygen being restored.”
In contrast, oxygen readings in the stretch of canal across Trent Road were normal this week.
Mr Page said investigations would take place to determine whether or not the affected section was due to high levels of silt and less plant life.
Also on scene on Tuesday was Jeff Mawhood, secretary of the Grantham Angling Association, which fishes the canal.
He said: “The fishing won’t be very good at all for the next few weeks while the oxygen levels look up.”