What Killed Thousands of Fish in Europe’s Oder River?


| LAST UPDATE 08/15/2022

By Veronica Anderson
Oder River Mystery
Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

Officials in both Germany and Poland are working closely together to solve the mystery behind what exactly happened in the Oder river, a body of water that runs through the two major countries for over 854 kilometers before flowing into the Baltic Sea. Thousands and thousands of dead fish have popped up along the water since late last month, and authorities are concerned about what caused the deaths and how long it will take to recover from such an incident.

Officials believe that toxic substances of some sort mysteriously entered the water and contaminated the species living in the river. The exact chemical is unknown at the moment, but Polish authorities have offered an award of $310,000 for any information regarding the situation. According to Anna Moskwa, Poland's Climate and Environment Minister, samples have been taken from both countries revealing heightened salt levels, but the mystery remains as to what exactly killed the fish. However, according to an official in Germany's eastern Brandenburg state, results showed an increased level of oxygen in the water.

Oder River Fish Mystery
 Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images
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The Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki stated there were "huge amounts of chemical waste" that were most likely thrown into the river intentionally, resulting in the fish's death and would evidently take years and years to recover. The river is typically considered relatively clean, as it is home to around 40 domestic fish species, so it is truly unclear what the substance that poisoned them is. However, according to a journalist from the Polish investigative website OKO.press, Katarzyna Kojzar, "it's serious." As a result, authorities in the north-eastern German area of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania told its citizens not to fish or use the water from the Szczecin lagoon due to the contained water that could reach new regions soon.

It has been reported that already 10 tonnes of dead fish have been removed from the Oder River, and hundreds of volunteers have stepped in to assist where they can. "For me, however, the most important thing is to deal with this ecological disaster as soon as possible because nature is our common heritage," Mr. Morawiecki said in regards to the situation.

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