Hundreds of fish saved as lake dries up in heatwave

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Fishermen have meticulously saved hundreds of fish from a lake in a French nature reserve which had dried up due to the heatwave.

A team of fish farmers visited the Landes Lake Nature Reserve in Lussat, central France on Thursday to begin a rescue operation for the 600 kg worth of fish which live in the lake.

Landes Lake was given protected status as a nature reserve in 2004 due to its ecological diversity, as more than 940 different species are found in and around it.

However, due to the record breaking heatwave gripping much of Western Europe combined with droughts, the 100 hectare lake has almost entirely dried up, putting the fish at risk.

Temperatures in Paris soared to a record breaking 42.6C on Thursday and a red alert was issued for much of northern France.

In order to save the fish from injury or death, the careful rescue operation was carried out.

The farmers put nets down in the lake before transferring the fish into buckets one at a time.

They were then transported to other lakes nearby with more water.

Landes Lake Nature Reserve conservationist Sebastien Bur said that although this is not the first time they have had to remove fish from the lake due to dangerously low water levels, this year’s weather had been ‘unprecedented’.

He said: ‘Because the water level in the lake is dropping day after day, the local authorities and the team at the nature reserve wanted to save, to protect, the fish in this lake.

‘So regularly we and our partners, a fish farmer from the local Creuse region, carry out a procedure to save the fish and remove them, with a meticulous fishing operation using a net and then taking them to other lakes where there’s a bit more water.

‘That’s enabled us to save 600 kilograms of fish which otherwise would have suffered because of the drop in water level, or even died.’

As well as the heatwave, the damage to the lake has been increased by the ongoing drought which has caused one of the the driest French summers in 150 years.

Conservationists are now concerned that these operations will be needed more frequently due to climate change.

Mr Bur added: ‘This drought is exceptional, it’s unprecedented both because of the lack of rain, really the lack of water was noticeable in the spring, and also because of the high temperatures since the end of June.

‘It’s completely exceptional. We have heatwaves at the end of the summer, regularly, maybe more frequently, though I’m not in a position to confirm that sort of thing, but the climate change projections give the impression that it’s more and more likely that this phenomenon will reoccur.’

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