Lake Erie Fish Kill Now Well Into The Tens Of Thousands, ‘There’s Something Really Wrong’
By Sharon Hill, The Windsor Star – “A strong sewage smell preceded scenes of dead fish littering the shores of Lake Erie this weekend and has residents wondering what caused the massive die-off, the president of the Rondeau Cottagers Association said Tuesday.
‘This is a very substantial fish kill and there’s something really wrong to have a fish die off like this,’ said Dr. David Colby, a cottager who is also the Chatham-Kent medical officer of health.
Colby said it is more of an environmental disaster than a threat to human health since it would be foolish to eat dead fish from the shore. He’s waiting to hear results from the Ministry of Environment, which collected fish and water samples Saturday that could take a few days to analyze.
He said some of the possible causes for the fish die-off wouldn’t explain the smell which started Friday, peaked at 3 a.m. Saturday and wasn’t like the rotting fish smell that has taken over the shoreline.
‘All kinds of people were woken out of a sound sleep by a stench and it was like a septic tank was backing up,’ he said.
Colby said he’s never smelled such a sewage stench on the lake and he’s never seen anything like the scenes of large dead fish littering the beach.
MOE officials aren’t sure what killed the fish, but preliminary tests and observations ruled out pollution or spills, MOE spokeswoman Kate Jordan said Tuesday. There was a strong manure smell Saturday but Jordan said there was no sign of manure runoff.
‘Certainly all the field measurements that our staff did on the weekend as well as observations that they made didn’t point to or indicate any source of spill or man-made pollution,’ Jordan said.
A significant number of dead fish in the tens of thousands was reported to the ministry on Saturday in a 40 kilometre stretch from Rondeau to Duttona Beach which is west of Port Stanley in Elgin County, she said.
‘Natural causes are a possibility. We are considering the possibility of a lake inversion,’ she said.” Read more.
Largest Die-Off In Recent History Could Have Huge Implications – “This turned out to be only the beginning of the largest die off of near shore fish in recent history. The beaches are littered, and in some cases, covered with tens of thousands of rotting fish… All these near-shore species appeared to have died within a short period. From Port Glascow, an offshore fisherman’s report of gasping fish and the suddenness of death resembles hypoxia, the reduction of oxygen in the water… The bottom of the western basin has been dubbed the Lake Erie ‘dead zone’ for good reason. Decades of nutrient runoff from the Detroit River, cities on both sides of the lake and surrounding agribusiness have contributed to a massive layer of sludge at the bottom of the lake. If this sludge begins to mobilize due to environmental temperature effects or excessive methane buildup during the hot summer months, then we may be witnessing the creeping fingers of the dead zone extending throughout the lake.” Read more.