THOUSANDS of fish died on the banks of the Thames near Goring as the floods began to subside.
Up to 5,000 perch, roach, dace, ruffe and minnow became stranded on farmland a few hundred yards south of the village on the Oxfordshire bank.
A member of the public spotted them while walking along the Thames Path on Thursday last week and alerted the Environment Agency.
At this point, the fish were still alive in a small pool of flood water. The agency’s officers notified the landowner and visited the next morning with nets to return the fish to the river but by the time they arrived, the water had drained away and most of the fish were dead.
Fisheries officer Tom Sherwood estimated that between 3,000 and 5,000 fish were strewn along a 30-metre stretch. Most were juvenile specimens between one and two years old.
Because they were on private land and posed no danger to the public, they were left to rot or be scavenged by predators.
Mr Sherwood said: “By the time we received the report it was too late to attend so we went out the next morning. When we arrived it was unfortunately too late although there was the odd one or two still flapping about. It is generally down to the local authority to scoop them up but being on private land they were left for nature to take its course.”
Mr Sherwood said fish often ended up in ditches or on low-lying land during floods as they seek out areas where the water is flowing slowly.
Usually they find their way back to the river but sometimes the water level drops too rapidly or they encounter obstacles.
The incident was the only one of its kind reported in the Thames Valley.