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Fish kill conspiracy

Kim Palmer  |  11/14/07 @ 6:13pm

When it comes to an eco-system like Lake Erie, it's difficult to ever know for certain the answers to questions like: What's that smell or why are there so many dead fish washed up on the beach?

Recently, such questions were the hot topic of discussion, and made for some arguably light conspiracy, earlier this month when a number of Euclid residents were bombarded with an unseasonably nasty odor and rather large fish kill on their shores.

What was the cause of this particular fish kill? That was the question posed and heartily debated on Lake Erie Discussion Board. This hotbed of Lake Erie discussion resides on the OSU Sea Grant web site and is an open forum for questions and discussions with experts from the Sea Grant program.

Theories posted about the fish kill ranged from a possible reoccurrence of the invasive VHS virus that killed off a number of perch this spring to possible fallout from the area's recent seismic activity.

Luckily there are experts from the OSU sea grant program on hand to bring 'on the science'.

According to Fred Snyder, an OSU extension agent, "A thermocline currently exists in Lake Erie, so at least parts of the cold bottom layer are likely anoxic. This situation may be more acute this year because of heavy rains pushing overflowed sewage into the lake.  Heavy rains also carry more phosphorus into the lake (from sewage and fertilizers), stimulating algae blooms."

Add that to the fact that the majority of the fish found in the fish kill were Gobies, and that species do not have swim bladders which allow them to move out of the anoxic, or oxygen-devoid water and you have the most likely cause of the Euclid fish kill.

Of course not everyone is content with the 'most likely' reason for the happenings at Euclid, and think more investigation into the fish kill is needed. However, anyone reading the discussion will learn more about thermoclines, blue algae and phosphorus run-off, and Gobies fish than they knew was possible.

For anyone who didn't experience the Euclid fish kill in person and want a more visual experience check out this local blog: walleyman.blogster.com. Here a Euclid resident and his readers posted some fish kill photos which are worth a look-if you like looking at dead fish.

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