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GIRONA, Spain – Spanish authorities rescued native fish from a river shrivelled by a prolonged drought on Wednesday, April 26, as the country endured abnormally high temperatures that Spain’s meteorological agency attributed to climate change.
In the northeastern city of Girona, officials used small electric shocks to stun fish in the river Onyar before putting them into plastic bags and transferring them to the Ter river 10 km (six miles) away, which has significantly higher water levels.
Only fish endemic to the river were transferred, while introduced species were euthanised.
Spain has had 36-consecutive months of below-average rainfall. Reservoirs are on average at 50% of their capacity, however, in the northeastern region of Catalonia and the southern region of Andalusia, levels have fallen to approximately 25%.
The picture of a handful of wading workers trying to save the fish, with the water only reaching their calves, contrasted with January 2019 when the same river overflowed during a storm.
Last month, in the Sau reservoir located 100 km north of Barcelona – which is only 10% full – boats rounded up several tons of fish.
The animals struggled to survive in the low-oxygen waters, so they were euthanised to protect drinking water from contamination.
The country is facing unseasonably high temperatures more typical of summer. Meteorological agency AEMET said this month was likely to be the most intense April on the Iberian Peninsula since records began.
“Although each episode needs to be analyzed in detail in terms of its intensity and early onset, it fits in with what is being observed to be caused by climate change,” AEMET spokesman Ruben del Campo said.
In its annual State of the Climate report, the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service said that in 2022 southern Europe experienced the highest number of days on record with “very strong heat stress”.