Vandals poison marine fish at aquarium

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A marine wildlife centre in New Zealand has lost almost half its fish following an attack by vandals.

Staff at Island Bay Marine Education Centre in Wellington were horrified to find dead and dying fish in the reservoir tank early on Saturday morning.

Someone had put pool treatment tablets containing chlorine into the water system.

The aquarium displays local marine life. Among the dead were all the pipefish, flounder and sole and two Pygmy octopuses, along with red cod, sea perch, leatherjackets and an enormous butterfish that schoolchildren enjoyed feeding. It's thought that more than 80 fish were killed. Staff managed to save seahorses and king crabs and some of the larger fish.

In a report by Radio New Zealand, spokesman for the centre Julian Hodge, said: "Whoever did this obviously would have known what the effect might have been, they would have needed to arrive with these sorts of things with them, they would have needed to have lifted the lid on the tank, they probably would have noticed that there were live fish in there and I would suggest that this is a deliberate act."

Staff were said to be devastated as they have been caring for some of the animals for almost the entire 17 years the centre has been open to the public.

Firefighters helped with the clean-up operation by pumping clean seawater through the system, but more fish were lost the following day due to the effects of the poison and a huge clutch of octopus eggs which were due to hatch in the next couple of weeks will probably not now make it.

A large anchor chain was also stolen from outside the centre.

Police are investigating the incident.

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