In 2022, Poland and Germany experienced a prolonged and extensive mass fish kill in the Odra River. During the period from the end of July to the beginning of September 2022, a high level of incidental disease and mortality was observed in various fish species (dozens of different species were found dead). The fish mortality affected five Polish provinces (Silesia, Opole, Lower Silesia, Lubuskie, and Western Pomerania) and involved reservoir systems covering most of the river (the Odra River is 854 km long, of which 742 km are in Poland). Fatal cases were investigated using toxicological, anatomopathological, and histopathological tests. Water samples were collected to determine nutrient status in the water column, phytoplankton biomass, and community composition. High nutrient concentrations indicated high phytoplankton productivity, with favorable conditions for golden algal blooms. The harmful toxins (prymnesins secreted by Prymnesium parvum habitats) had not been found in Poland before, but it was only a matter of time, especially in the Odra River, whose waters are permanently saline and still used for navigation. The observed fish mortality resulted in a 50% decrease in the fish population in the river and affected mainly cold-blooded species. Histopathological examinations of fish showed acute damage to the most perfused organs (gills, spleen, kidneys). The disruption to hematopoietic processes and damage to the gills were due to the action of hemolytic toxins (prymnesins). An evaluation of the collected hydrological, meteorological, biological, and physico-chemical data on the observed spatio-temporal course of the catastrophe, as well as the detection of three compounds from the group of B-type prymnesins in the analyzed material (the presence of prymnesins was confirmed using an analysis of the fragmentation spectrum and the accurate tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) measurement, in combination with high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), allowed the formulation and subsequent testing of the hypothesis for a direct link between the observed fish mortality and the presence of prymnesins in the Odra River. This article systematizes what is known about the causes of the fish kill in the Odra River in 2022, based on official government reports (one Polish and one German) and the EU technical report by the Joint Research Centre. A review and critical analysis of government findings (Polish and German) on this disaster were conducted in the context of what is known to date about similar cases of mass fish kills.

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