Dead Fish and Discoloration at Bali’s Lake Batur

20110621_032042_2

20110621_032042_2

The discoloration of the water at Lake Batur, the largest of the island’s four lakes, has both residents and officials worried.

The lake has turned from a clear green to white and the water also produces a foul smell, with hundreds of dead fish floating to the surface at several locations.

“This has been going on for several days. We are going about our daily lives but we can’t hide our concern over this development,” Songan resident Gede Ariawan said.

Songan is one of several villages on the shore of the lake, which is a caldera of an ancient volcano. For decades majestic Lake Batur, Mount Batur, Trunyan village and cool, misty Kintamani have made the area one of the island’s main tourist attractions.

As investors and rich locals transformed Kintamani and the lakeshore village of Penelokan into tourist resorts, residents of other villages around the lake bred freshwater fish in submerged bamboo cages in the lake and grew vegetables on the lake’s undeveloped shore.

“The putrid smell of dead fish is mixed with a strong sulfuric stench from the lake,” Ariawan said.

A senior government official responsible for monitoring volcanic activity said there were no direct indications that the discoloration and dead fish were related to volcanic activity on Mt. Batur.

“We have a monitoring post on Mt. Batur and staff there report that the seismograph hasn’t recorded any increase in seismic activity,” eastern Indonesia volcano monitoring and investigation head Kristianto said.

However, he added that the presence of a sulfuric stench warranted further investigation.

“A sulfuric stench could indicate increased magmatic activity. What we need to establish through this investigation is whether the magmatic activity is related to nearby Mt. Batur, or to a possible fissure at the bottom of the lake, or to any other possibilities,” Kristianto added.

A team has been deployed to the lake to collect water samples, which have been sent to a laboratory in Bandung for further testing, the results of which are expected in “one or two days”.

Bangli administration spokesman Made Mahindra Putra said there was speculation that the death of the fish was caused either by sulfur released from the lake bottom or chemical contamination from pesticides used in lakeshore farms.

“Bali Environmental Agency officials are currently conducting investigations in the area around the lake while officials from the Bangli Fisheries Agency and local fish farmers are collecting the dead fish and burying them,” he said.

The administration has warned residents not to sell the dead fish. So far, 3 tons of dead fish have been collected.

Source: The Jakarta Post

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