For those fishing on Lake Erie at the Harry Probst Fishing Platform, something was a bit fishy Thursday - and it wasn't the smell of fish. Many dead gizzard shad fish populated the waters of Lake Erie.
According to Senior Fish and Wildlife Technician Rich Zimar of the state Department of Environmental Conservation Fisheries Station in Dunkirk, the situation was not due to anything abnormal experienced by the fish. Zimar suggested the cause could be the temperature.
"At this point in time, we don't see that it's a crisis situation," he said.
OBSERVER Photos by Rebecca Schwab
Many gizzard shad fish were found dead Thursday in Lake Erie. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Fisheries Station in Dunkirk, the fish died due to lower water temperatures.
According to Zimar, this has happened in the past and gizzard shad can be subject to thermal stress. While Chautauqua County's shoreline is in the habitat for the gizzard shad, it is at the very edge of their living environment. Many come here looking for warmer water, especially around this time of the year.
"Thousands upon thousands of fish pack into the harbor looking for warmer water," Zimar said. "We don't have warm water like we used to because the power plant isn't producing (warmer waters)."
Because of Niagara Mohawk is not producing enough energy as they were so the water in Lake Erie is not as warm causing the fish thermal stress. Zimar said samples of the fish were taken but the majority were heavily decomposed. The fisheries station will keep an eye on the lake and hopefully get fresh samples.
"We'll keep an eye on it and grab some samples if we see fresh (fish)," Zimar said.
While the lake is full of dead fish, there may be some good news. Many of the birds that are local love to eat fish, Zimar said. This is not the first time dead fish have been found in Lake Erie. While Zimar did not know the exact date, he estimated it was several years ago when a group of fish died off.
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