Lake Erie Residents Overwhelmed by Dead Fish
Wildlife officials are investigating what caused thousands of fish and birds to die and wash up along the shores of Lake Erie, while leaving health officials to determine if there is any threat to humans.
Dead fish and seagulls were reported as appearing on the banks of Lake Erie Wednesday on both sides of the border, with officials initially stating that the massive amounts of fish were killed by natural causes.
The deaths might have been caused from the stress of spawning or a change in water temperature. That could deplete that oxygen level, causing the fish to suffocate, Roger Knight, Lake Erie fisheries program manager for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, told the Associated Press.
Local officials are looking into the possibility that an occurrence known as lake inversion could be the reason for the deaths. While inversions are not a frequent phenomenon, they have been recorded happing in Lake Erie before. An inversion is when cold water from the lake's bottom is brought to the lake's surface and since cold water has less oxygen in it, fish suffocate.
Local officials are still urging people to remain cautious as they await the results of lab test to determine if there are any possible threats to humans.
"First thing that crossed my mind, is there any potential danger to humans from a health point of view … Secondly, as I got more and more into it, what's the cause of this sudden fish kill in the lake," Rick Nicholls, Member of Provincial Parliament for the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, told ABC News.
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The fish washed up along a 25-mile stretch of Lake Erie's Canada shore starting on Saturday. Since then, residents have been reporting an overwhelming smell of dead fish.
"That might lead to speculation it might have been something other than a lake inversion might have occurred," Nicholls said.