Foul stench as thousands of fish, eels suffocate
The stench of thousands of dead eels covering the surface of Pink Lily Lagoon was almost unbearable.
What's worse is that they have only been dead for a day.
Tina and Straz Stritzke noticed the bodies floating to the surface on Wednesday afternoon.
They initially thought they were sticks floating on the lagoon before the grim realisation struck.
Yesterday morning, thousands had washed onto the lagoon's bank, only a stone's throw from the couple's raised Queenslander.
Some of the eels are more than a metre long and other types of fish are starting to wash up.
"If you look out there at those little ripples, that's the last of the poor things gasping for air," Tina said.
The cause of the eels' deaths is a result of recent drought and heat.
Fitzroy Basin Association confirmed that perilously low water levels paired with recent heat had drained the lagoon of the oxygen needed to sustain the eels.
The Stritzke's have lived on the Six Mile Road property for the past 30 years and the phenomenon had occurred only one other time during their residence - the drought of 1996.
Apart from the putrid smell of dead fish, Straz said he'd worried about the dead eels attracting unwanted scavengers such as wild pigs.
The lagoon's levels have been in constant decline since 2017 and that is made evident by a pontoon sitting on well-hardened ground about 30m above the current waterline.
Despite recent rain, Tina and Straz said the water levels remained unchanged.
"In the 90s, it was dry for about a year, but we had two inches one August and we had two foot of water come into the lagoon - that's only because it all fell at once" Straz said.
"If we had four inches now, no more fish would die but we'd need 10 inches for it to start filling again," Tina said.
It's not just the dead eels causing headaches for the Pink Lily hobby farmers.
They recently installed a $6000 bore to irrigate their property due to the mud and poor water quality.
Recent drought has meant they have cut their cattle stock down from 30 to nine in the past two years.
For the past 18 months, they have had to buy feed for the remaining cattle.
They are of the belief that a decent wet season will mean the difference between keeping what stock they have or selling up.
Heavy falls last week delivered for some farmers in the region but unfortunately missed the Stritzke's place.
"Last week you got 40 odd mil in Berserker and Wandal - we didn't get wet," Straz said.
The boggy mud make's it near impossible to remove the fish carcasses, so until decompositions and scavengers get to work, the Stritzke's will just have to grin and bear it.
"It has happened before, it's not the first time - it's drought and that's what happens," Tina said.