Young man battles to save fish in Ditchling lake

A young man battled to save fish that had floated to the top of Ditchling Common lake.

The hot weather and low oxygen levels last week sadly caused fish to perish in the lake – and at other lakes and rivers in Sussex.

But thanks to the efforts of Carl Smith, some at the lake at Ditchling Common were able to be saved.

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The 24-year-old rented a petrol pump and took it to the lake to begin circulating the water, allowing more oxygen to be dissolved into the water.

Carl Smith at Ditchling Common lake

His heroic efforts were praised on social media.

Carl said: “I learnt to fish at Ditchling Common when I was much younger and it is a special place for many people.

“On Thursday (August 13), dead fish began floating up to the surface at the lake. I contacted the Environment Agency and many people around the lake began calling East Sussex District Council to report the dying fish.

“The cause of death was an oxygen crash. This crash occurred because of the prolonged hot weather and algae blooms. The lack of dissolved oxygen in the water was accentuated by the very low water level, caused by a leak in the lake’s dam.

Picture contributed

“Many anglers from the local area came together to set up the pump and also bring down cans of petrol to keep it running.

“We removed all the dead fish from the lake and disposed of most of them in the forest to avoid their bodies polluting the lake water further.

“The fish continued to float up dead for another day, but now the remaining fish are looking a little healthier.

“Originally they were gasping for air on the surface, but now the pump has given them a lifeline and they can breath better.”

Picture contributed

Carl, a YouTuber who makes fishing films with his brother, Alex, said the pump will be running at the lake until the oxygen level comes back to normal.

He said the anglers were still monitoring the fish and keeping watch on the pump 24/7 on a rota, between work shifts.

Carl added: “The locals I’ve spoken to and the anglers in particular hope that East Sussex County Council will finally repair the leak in the dam, preventing this loss of wildlife and damage to habitat in future summers.

“Going forward the local residents and fishermen want to see the dam mended, the lake de-silted and fishing permitted with a ticket. Anglers have expressed that they dont mind if the fishing ticket price goes up, to help fund the upkeep of the lake.”

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