“Seagulls are dying just in front my eyes!” Ecologists take control over wake-up call from Volga River

Citizens of Kazan report on the mass death of birds and fish and the unnatural sediment in the river

“Seagulls are dying just in front my eyes!” Ecologists take control over wake-up call from Volga River Photo: mirvremeni.ru

The messages about the death of birds and fish in the Volga River within the city have disturbed citizens of Kazan. In particular social media users said about dead beached fish and seagulls close to Pobedilovo settlement. There were wake-up calls in other riverbank zones around Kazan, while the situation worsened about a week ago. Late last week photos of the water of unnatural greenish colour with a lot of foam on Lokomotiv beach also appeared on the Net. As Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent found out, the beach is full of dead fish, and the water itself has an unpleasant, strong smell. Ecologists got involved in the case, but, as the specialists found out, the water hadn’t been necessarily the cause of the birds’ death. More is in Realnoe Vremya’s report.

Dead seagulls

“The deadly Volga River,” a citizen of Kazan who shot dead birds and fish on the riverbank close to Pobedilovo settlement headlined his video. The video went viral on social media and had over 16,000 views.

“Fish was beached five minutes ago, seagulls are dying just in front of me. It has been alive just recently, it’s died who knows why. It was really suffering — I didn’t know how to help, to be honest. I am in shock, too. I’ve been here for many years, I haven’t seen such a thing, of course, the author comments the video.

“I don’t know, maybe there were some emissions: dead seagulls are all over the riverbank. Fish, birds are dying in front of my eyes. In a word, I don’t want to shoot such horror, everything is very sad. Apocalypse awaits us,” the man concludes.

Shots from Lokomotiv beach complemented the sad picture in Kazan water bodies. The water there is unnaturally green with a sky-blue hue and a lot of foam. Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent who went to the scene saw it at first hand.

In addition to the unpleasant sediment, the riverbank is full of waste and dead fish from 20 to 60 cm in length. Few people paid attention to the No Swimming sign at the beach — here people not only swam and took sunbathes but also went fishing. “We aren’t afraid,” both holidaymakers and fishermen brushed off.

The water there is unnaturally green with a sky-blue hue and a lot of foam. Photo: social media

“Thick green water”

Two employees on duty in the lifeguard point think that the water just began to blossom and it happened about 1,5 weeks ago. “It has already been thick green in the last four days,” one of the noted.

According to the lifeguards, representatives of the Federal Service for Supervising Natural Resources (Rosprirodnadzor) and other agencies weekly take samples: “They regularly come, control the state of the city’s beaches. They came on Wednesday for the next intake, and after the inspection last week the water was recognised unsuitable for swimming”.

However, it had been forbidden to swim here since the beginning of the season, from 1 June. “A black ball is hanging on the stand, it means ‘no swimming”, the rescuers noted.

However, the interlocutor himself says that “people aren’t afraid and swim”. None of the lifeguards links the mass fish mortality washed on the riverbank with the bad quality of water. According to them, the fish contains tapeworms: “If it is infected, it swims close to the surface and dies at last. Fish with tapeworms have always swum here. Everything is simple — there is no stream here, a stream is near the bridge, and here it is a bay. The wind blows from there and it brings all this mud here.”

Swimming has been forbidden since the beginning of the season, which starts on 1 June

Were the birds poisoned in the riverbank?

The Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of the republic reacted to the messages of citizens of Kazan about the mortalities of fish and birds in the Volga River next to Pobedilovo. Specialists headed to the scene for inspection.

“We went to the scene, took a sample of water. But our specialists didn’t manage to confirm the fact of mortality of birds and fish — they didn’t see them. The data of the inspection will be sent to the administration of the state environment watchdog Rosprirodnadzor, as the Volga River is a federal object, and this agency controls activity there. Moreover, the materials will be handed over to the State Committee for Biological Resources and the Federal Agency for Fishery — birds and fish are in their custody,” press secretary Liliya Mulyukova told Realnoe Vremya.

Head of KFU’s Department for Environmental Engineering and Water Usage Nafisa Mingazova commented on the situation with bird mortality for Realnoe Vremya:

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“Birds were fed in the riverbank area, probably rats were poisoned again in the landfill. I’ve seen the video, it seems to be true — birds that ate something on the riverbank are intoxicated. Theoretically, of course, water could have been the source of poisoning, but then fish would have come onto the surface en masse, and there is nothing. Moreover, birds died at different times, according to the photos. This is a widespread occurrence here now, unfortunately, birds are tending to die in places where rats are poisoned.”

As for the unnatural sediment in the river next to Lokomotiv beach, ecologists from the ministry also resent this claim to Rosprirodnadzor. The press service of the Tatarstan Ministry of Emergency Situations didn’t confirm the fact of technological hazard. But, as the specialists explained, in this case laboratory analyses of water are needed. “Analyses must be done, and it won’t hurt to examine water intakes, this isn’t the most favourable situation,” Mingazova noted.

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By Leysan Nabiyeva, Vasilya Shirshova. Photo: Leysan Nabiyeva
Tatarstan