"WE SMELT them before we realised what it was."
"Then we had to step over one that had landed on the path."
These are the words of a Bundaberg woman disgusted to see "hundreds of dead fish" at Bundaberg Botanic Gardens today.
Monica Banks was taking her daughter to ride the train at a popular tourist spot before lunch when the smell hit her.
The fish were everywhere - not only in the ponds around the gardens.
"We smelt them before we realised what is was then we had to step over one that had landed on the path," she said.
"It was sad, not a good look for the area especially on school holidays."
Along with dead fish, she said birds didn't look well either.
She said there was a daycare centre visiting and the children were asking why the fish were floating upside down.
The NewsMail understands some of the fish are bony bream.
A spokesman said Bundaberg Regional Council was aware of the fish kill and staff were continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the deaths.
Mayor Jack Dempsey said it appeared likely recent weather had created unfavourable conditions leading to the death of the fish.
"We have had these types of incidents in the past, as have numerous locations across the state, and usually factors such as recent rain events causing nutrient run-off and subsequent build-up in the ponds as well as extreme heat can negatively impact the fish habitat," he said.
There is a healthy crop of duck weed in the pond at the moment and Cr Dempsey said it was likely the additional nutrient had been feeding the duck weed which in turn, through its vigorous growth, was extracting oxygen from the water and possibly contributing to the death of the fish.
Council staff were made aware of dead fish found floating in the pond at the cane railway platform on Tuesday evening.
"Obviously the situation progressed overnight to a point where we had a significant number of fish dead by mid-morning," Cr Dempsey said.
"Staff were brought back from holidays to launch a boat and undertake the removal of the fish about 1pm today.
"The botanic gardens are very popular at this time of year and obviously council is keen to show this mainstream attraction in its best possible light."
Cr Dempsey said the council did not believe humans had played in the fish kill.
"While the dead fish appear to be an unfortunate part of a natural occurrence, visitors to the Gardens did not appear to be overly perturbed by the event as the fish were reasonably confined in their location," he said.
No other animals have been affected in the gardens, the mayor said.
"I would like to thank visitors to the gardens for their understanding and also compliment council staff for the urgency they displayed in addressing the disposal of the fish."
This is the third case of dead animals found at the gardens after a number of fish, birds, turtles and lizards were poisoned by a banned and toxic pesticide in September.
And the dead birds were found at the beginning of November was a result of the birds purging their nest of extra chicks.
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