Pymatuning Fish Kill Ends

Experts say that what killed thousands of fish at Pymatuning Lake are bacteria that are not harmful to humans. The Allegheny Front's Estelle Tran has more.

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OPEN: Experts say that what killed thousands of fish at Pymatuning Lake are bacteria that are not harmful to humans. The Allegheny Front's Estelle Tran has more.

TRAN: The Department of Environmental Protection still awaits some test results, but says high temperatures made the fish susceptible to a bacterial infection. Up to 15,000 fish died in the Pymatuning fish kill that began on May 15 and ended after a few weeks. Initial reports said only about five-thousand fish died, but hot weather around Memorial Day weekend multiplied the estimates. About ninety-five percent of those fish were the species known as Crappie. But all species of fish in the lake were affected. The DEP's Ron Lybrook said the bacteria that killed the fish is common in lakes with high fish populations or low dissolve oxygen levels, and the bacteria stays in the water for about 30 days.

LYBROOK: We did an environmental evaluation to look to see if we could find any pollution sources and, finding none, we collected some samples of the fish. That's when we saw that some of the fish had large ulcers and also discoloration in their gills and that led us to believe that it was an infection and that's when we first discovered we're dealing not with a pollution incident but a bacterial or fungal infection.

TRAN: Recent rainy weather helped to cool Pymatuning Lake and sink the fish remains. But the state's "Do not eat" advisory remains in place until more tests confirm that it's safe to eat the fish. Tamarack Lake, which is also in Crawford County, and Stonewall Jackson Lake in West Virginia also experienced similar fish kills. These are all relatively shallow lakes, and as a result, they're more affected by changes in temperature.

For The Allegheny Front, I'm Estelle Tran.