Fish are the latest hazard in the desert

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The Independent Online

Drivers in the Australian outback are accustomed to the sight of furry corpses littering the highways. Now, in the middle of the Great Sandy Desert, some unexpected creatures are adding to the death toll of possums and kangaroos: fish.

Drivers in the Australian outback are accustomed to the sight of furry corpses littering the highways. Now, in the middle of the Great Sandy Desert, some unexpected creatures are adding to the death toll of possums and kangaroos: fish.

Record rains, brought by a spate of recent cyclones, have created an inland sea that laps across the Great Northern Highway, 4 inches deep, between Port Hedland and Broome in Western Australia.

Schools of tiny silver and yellow fish, said by local Aborigines to originate in underground water sources, have congregated in deeper water that has accumulated on either side of the road. At regular intervals they make a dash for the other side, swimming against the flow of water in the same way that salmon swim upstream. Many do not survive, either crushed beneath the wheels of cars, camper vans and trucks, or swooped upon by the birds that have flocked to the area.

According to staff at the Sandfire roadhouse, 190 miles south of Broome, the area could be under water for months. They said the flooding was so extensive that it stretched to the coastal tidal flats, which means that parts of the inland sea are actually rising and falling with the tides of the Indian Ocean.

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