Monday, August 6, 2012

Thousands of fish die as Midwest streams heat up

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Thousands of fish are dying in the Midwest as the hot, dry summer dries up rivers and causes water temperatures to climb in some spots to nearly 100 degrees.

About 40,000 shovelnose sturgeon were killed in Iowa last week as water temperatures reached 97 degrees. Nebraska fishery officials said they've seen thousands of dead sturgeon, catfish, carp, and other species in the Lower Platte River, including the endangered pallid sturgeon. And biologists in Illinois said the hot weather has killed tens of thousands of large- and smallmouth bass and channel catfish and is threatening the population of the greater redhorse fish, a state-endangered species.

So many fish died in one Illinois lake that the carcasses clogged an intake screen near a power plant, lowering water levels to the point that the station had to shut down one of its generators.

"It's something I've never seen in my career, and I've been here for more than 17 years," said Mark Flammang, a fisheries biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. "I think what we're mainly dealing with here are the extremely low flows and this unparalleled heat."

The fish are victims of one of the driest and warmest summers in history. The federal U.S. Drought Monitor shows nearly two-thirds of the lower 48 states are experiencing some form of drought, and the Department of Agriculture has declared more than half of the nation's counties — nearly 1,600 in 32 states — as natural disaster areas. More than 3,000 heat records were broken over the last month.

3 comments:

Daniel said...

Saw a bunch of pics of the kill, too bad. Nature can suck at times.

Ricky Anderson said...

Wow! It is really getting bad out there because of this drought. I sure hope it starts raining again before we all wind up living in a desert.

bluecollarguy said...

I like to follow the NEFGA board (dreams of fishing the Valentine lakes and some of the other NE impoundments) and there are a few posts with pics like that recently. Kind of crazy to imagine a stretch of the Platte just not having any water!