Lab inconclusive over dead fish mystery in Tulagi water

Tulagi township, Central Province
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THE National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL) in Honiara has not found what caused the dead fishes found in waters near Tulagi early this month.

However, the local lab has ruled out the possibility of the fishes dying from poisoning.

The first report issued by NPHL said it does not have HPLC machines (specialised) equipment for fish testing as this issue.

This machines, High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) is a form of column chromatography that pumps a sample mixture or analyte in a solvent (known as the mobile phase) at high pressure through a column with chromatographic packing material (stationary phase).

The advantages of using HPLC is that it requires a small sample size, testing can be modified depending on the level of quantification needed, and it produces reliable results.

Central Islands Province, Environmental Health Division Health Inspector Julienne Leinga said that tests were done on Microbiology but the test does not give precise results because the fish were already decomposed and had high concentration of bacteria in the flesh.

“NPHL has done Microbiology Test Result, Chemical Test Result and Physical Test Result.

“Microbiology Test Result shows that a high micro count on enterococci which is common since most communities along the coastline uses mangroves as their disposal site (sanitation). Except Boboro stream because there is no one living there for quite a while thus no human activities around that area as well. The family had moved to Tulagi for some time now.

“Chemical Test Result refers to the tests shown, according to the WHO standard the chemicals present and were tested are not hazardous as to kill a large amount of marine lives over a long period of time.

“Physical Test Result refers to the test results shown, and interesting findings were seen in the dissolved oxygen (DO).

“This means when the amount of oxygen in water decreases it causes the fish to suffocate which in this context during the interview the villagers confirmed such occurrence. However, often climate change can also be the cause of death for the fish such as the algae bloom.

“There is no confirmation from the test as to what causes the water to have a very low DO,” said Leinga.

Meanwhile, Leinga on behalf of the division, acknowledged the National Public Health Lab Team for their effort in taking the samples and having them tested.

“We look forward to the collaborative effort with other line ministries to solve this issue and hope for a better solution,” she said.

Leinga reminded the people to practise good hygiene at all times as Tulagi area including surrounding communities are being reported dead fish.