Home > Mass Animal Deaths > Ontario: Hundreds of Loons, Mallards, Grebes, Seagulls and Canada Geese Die in Georgian Bay, ‘Something is Occurring at the Bottom of the Lake’

Ontario: Hundreds of Loons, Mallards, Grebes, Seagulls and Canada Geese Die in Georgian Bay, ‘Something is Occurring at the Bottom of the Lake’

By Kristen Smith – “COLLINGWOOD – The Ministry of Natural Resources is trying to figure out why fish and birds have been dying in south Georgian Bay.

The ministry started receive sporadic reports beginning in late August, but cases have increased in frequency and distribution in recent weeks.

The fish die-off includes channel fish, freshwater drum, carp, lake whitefish, and one largemouth drum. Wasaga Beach Provincial Park staff have disposed of about 120 dead sturgeon.

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources spokesperson John Cooper says fresh samples have been sent to the University of Guelph to test for fish and bird diseases, including the Type E botulism toxin, which Cooper says is quite likely the cause.

‘It’s a naturally occurring event,’ said Cooper, adding little is known about the ecology of the bacteria which produces the botulism toxin.

‘Something is occurring at the bottom of the lake,’ said Cooper.

Georgian Triangle Anglers’ Association President Rick Baldry says its members have seen a number of fish, including sturgeon, floating on the water’s surface.

Baldry immediately suggested the cause could be Type E botulism, which is what the ministry says is typically the cause of these sort of die-offs.

He says even though there are plenty of fish and there is little concern it will affect anglers or the fishing industry, it matters: ‘Anything that upsets or disturbs the ecosystem matters.’

The bacterium naturally occurs as harmless spores in lake bottom sediment. Under certain conditions – rich nutrient source, lack of oxygen, and optimum temperature – the bacterium begins producing the toxin. It then enters the food chain, primarily affecting birds and fish.

More than 300 dead birds have also been reported to the ministry, including loons, mallards, grebes, gulls, and Canada geese.

Cooper says sturgeon, and other fish which swim and feed along the bottom, are most prone to contamination.

He also says dead sturgeon are most obvious because of their size and they float to the top when they are dead – other fish may be dying off unnoticed because some fish fall to the bottom.

Cooper says this many fish dying is not good, adding the numbers were much smaller last year.” Read more.

Categories: Mass Animal Deaths
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