Thousands of dead fish have washed up on the shore of the Mar Menor sparking an investigation by prosecutors.
The startling scenes were recorded on the coast of the Mar Menor, a coastal saltwater lagoon located south-east of the Autonomous Community of Murcia in eastern Spain, near the city of Cartagena.
In the images, hundreds of dead fish and crabs can be seen on the shore of the lagoon and local media report thousands of fish and other marine wildlife have died.
Local media report the fish seemingly died from a lack of oxygen in the waters of the lagoon and the chief prosecutor of the Murcia Superior Court of Justice, Jose Luis Diaz Manzanera, has ordered the opening of an investigation.
Local media report the counsellor for Water, Agriculture, Livestock, Fishing and the Environment for Murcia, Antonio Luengo, said that initial analysis suggests the ‘cold drop’ which hit the area in September could be the reason for the lack of oxygen in the water.
The heavy rainfall in the cold drop is thought to have taken large amounts of fresh water into the saltwater lagoon along with soil and organic material.
Javier Gilabert from the Scientific Committee of the Mar Menor told reporters that it is “the worst situation in the Mar Menor’s history” adding that the loss marine life was “very serious” and “incalculable”.
He added that “the freshwater and mud accumulated in the lagoon, raising its level by half a metre” which caused “phytoplankton and bacteria to proliferate in the first (upper) layer, producing very low levels of oxygen in the lower layers”.
Greenpeace said in a statement: “The intense rainfall from the cold spell took large volumes of freshwater into a lagoon seriously deteriorated by dumping and poor management.
“The disastrous impact of the cold drop is nothing compared to the lack of control of contaminated waters which enter the Mar Menor every day.”
The investigation is ongoing.