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100,000 Fish Mysteriously Die In A Nevada Lake

Jan 21, 14 100,000 Fish Mysteriously Die In A Nevada Lake

In the last month, as many as 100,000 trout, bass and catfish have died in the manmade, 77-acre Sparks Marina east of Reno, Nevada. The lake has been stocked yearly and the fish have flourished since the lake was created 15 years ago.

According to Chris Healy, a spokesman from the Nevada Department of Wildlife, an apparent drop in dissolved oxygen levels may be the cause of this catastrophe, as noted on Fox News.

Scientists are searching for an explanation for the massive die-off. A theory of bitter cold temperatures may have let oxygen-poor water rise to the surface.

Biologists have confirmed that last December 3,000 fish died from low oxygen levels, but it was concentrated to a shallow cove at the northern end of the lake according to the Reno Gazette Journal. Healy believed that the December incident was limited to that one section, but since then, there have been no detection of live fish.

“The 100,000 dead fish figure is something that is probably a pretty conservative guess. We don’t know if any small fish have survived, but for all intents and purposes, the fishery doesn’t exist anymore,” Healy told The Associated Press.

Scientist took samples from eleven different locations on the lake on Monday. They determined the dissolved oxygen levels were well below the level needed to support the fish and found no live fish swimming with electronic fish finders.

According to ABC News, Healy had said that earlier test results showed the oxygen levels to be between 1.1 to 1.9 parts per million. The best range for a fish is between 7.0 to 9.0 parts per million, but if it drops below 5.0 parts per million, fish cannot survive.

The lake is usually stocked in late February or early March, but until the lake’s oxygen level “makes a big recovery,” there won’t be any fish stocked in the lake Healy mentioned.

The location of the lake use to be an aggregate pit owned by Helms Construction Co. that became contaminated by a nearby tank farm in 1988. Officials stated that all the pollution had been cleaned up before the 1997 flood from the Truckee River filled the pit.

The Truckee Meadows Wastewater Reclamation Facility collects water from the lake and manager Michael Drinkwater says that preliminary test has revealed, “no obvious indication hydrocarbon pollution could be associated with the die-off,” he said.

This wasn’t the first time that numerous amounts of fish have died at in a lake. The New York Daily News reported that 100,000 drum fish died in the Arkansas River scattering dead fish over 20 miles back in late 2010. This incident was 125 miles from Beebe, where thousands of blackbirds fell from the sky that New Years Eve.

“It appears that it could be a disease, because it just affected one species. We don’t believe it’s environmental, because it would have killed a lot of other fish,” Keith Stephens of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission told the Daily News.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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