Wildlife & Biodiversity

Mass fish kill in Bustillos lagoon as Mexico faces drought

Local authorities rush to control the damage by quicklime to stop spreading of diseases  

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 11 June 2024

The Bustillos Lagoon in the border state of Chihuahua, Mexico, is carpeted with thousands of dead fish, as reported on June 8, 2024. Local officials are attributing this mass fish kill to the intense drought gripping the region.

Chihuahua is enduring severe dry spells, with temperatures soaring above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). The lack of rain has drastically reduced water levels in Bustillos Lagoon.

This decrease in water volume is a significant problem for the fish, but it’s not the only one. As the lagoon shrinks due to the drought, the concentration of pollutants in the remaining water increases, creating a double burden for the fish, leaving them with less water and poorer quality water to breathe.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time that Bustillos Lagoon has faced such a tragedy. According to the head of the Ecology Department in Cuauhtémoc City, similar fish kills have occurred in previous drought years. Rain is desperately needed to refill the lagoon and dilute the pollutants.

This situation highlights the devastating impact of drought and water pollution on biodiversity. Government data shows nearly 90% of Mexico is experiencing some form of drought, the worst since 2011. As dams dry up and farmers struggle to obtain water, the town’s cattle population has been decimated, harvests disrupted, and fisheries culled, forcing farmers to abandon their region.

With the lagoon’s ecosystem collapsing, local authorities are struggling to contain the damage. They’re racing to cover the dead fish with quicklime to prevent a public health crisis caused by rapid decomposition, which attracts insects and spreads diseases.

Recently, the Periyar River in the Indian state of Kerala also suffered a massive fish kill on May 20, 2024, allegedly due to pollution from the neighbouring Edayar Industrial Development Area.

Last year, in 2023, Japan’s Hakodate experienced a surprise mass fish kill at its beach, allegedly due to colder water, while the Gulf of Texas witnessed an unprecedented mass fish kill event due to rising temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico.

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