Tens of thousands of dead fish stink up Lake Erie shore
Tens of thousands of dead fish are stinking up a 25-mile stretch of Lake Erie shoreline.
September 5th, 2012
10:20 AM ET

Tens of thousands of dead fish stink up Lake Erie shore

Tens of thousands of dead fish have washed up on a 25-mile stretch of Lake Erie's northern shore, and Ontario environmental officials say they could be victims of a natural phenomenon called a lake inversion.

The inversion brings cold water, which has lower oxygen levels, to the lake's surface and fish suffocate.

"Essentially it's a rolling over of the lake," Ontario Ministry of the Environment spokeswoman Kate Jordan told The Chatham Daily News. "Something whether it be a storm, or cooler temperatures at night, or strong winds triggers a temperature change in the lake."

Jordan said it was windy and choppy on the lake Friday night, according to a report in The Windsor Star. The fish kill was reported Saturday.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the central basin of Lake Erie, between Cleveland on the south and Chatham, Ontario, on the north is particularly susceptible to oxygen deprivation, with the danger peaking in late August and mid-September.

Others suspect a sewage spill may have something to do with the fish kill.

David Colby, chief medical officer of the Chatham-Kent district where dead fish litter the beaches, told The Windsor Star that residents reported a strong sewage smell the night before the fish washed ashore.

“All kinds of people were woken out of a sound sleep by a stench and it was like a septic tank was backing up,” The Windsor Star quoted Colby as saying.

But Jordan said tests of lake water taken Saturday showed no signs of what might have killed the fish. The water was tested for oxygen, PH levels, conductivity and temperature, she said.

"The ministry did not observe any evidence of a spill or pollution and water quality measurements done did not show anything unusual," Jordan told CNN.

The investigation was continuing, she said.

The dead fish included carp, sheepshead, perch, catfish and suckers, the Daily News reported, and Colby said most were of good size.

"I haven't seen anything like this in quite some time," the Daily News quoted him as saying. "The interesting thing is that most of the fish are sizable. There are very few little ones."

Jordan told the Toronto Star the cleanup of the fish has yet to begin.

“We are having discussions with Environment Canada, the health unit and natural resources about that now,” the Toronto Star quoted her as saying.

Meanwhile, residents said the smell of rotting fish is overpowering.

"I had family here (on Monday) and I didn't allow them to take the dog or the children down to the beach," Chatham-Kent resident Patricia Pook told CNN affiliate CBC News. "I knew it was bad, but the smell is just overwhelming. It would make you sick to your stomach."

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Filed under: Canada • Environment • Fish
soundoff (216 Responses)
  1. Razorking

    Apparently they have now discovered the reason for the dead fish and the stench, and it is interesting to note that the stench was not in fact related to the dead fish at all. It seems that someone threw Mitt Romney's original convention speech into the lake – thus causing the carnage. This discovery is troubling, what do we do with "nuclear" waste from the Romney campaign?

    September 5, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mark Broccardo

    It's due to the earth's magnetic field shifting ahead of a polar reversal. The magnetic sensors in the fish and bird brains is used for migration and when the magnetic field shifts it throws them off course and they die.

    September 5, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Oh, I just thought that was a group of Republican Women

    Nevermind...

    September 5, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Trevor

    Pretty sure the author made a mistake describing "lake inversion." Inversion occurs when warm water, sometimes 10-15 degrees warmer than water at lower depths, saturates the surface lowering oxygen levels (cold water is denser so it sinks). Cold water also contains more dissolved oxygen than warm water. That is why trout and other salmoid species thrive in cold lakes, rivers, and streams. They are among some species of fish hyper-sensitive to oxygen level changes.

    September 5, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Erie Fisherman

    News Flash!!! The rain is heavy in South Carolina, democratic convention and Obama just got washed into Lake Erie and created a horrfic odor...good grief, the lake is about to go into a deep recession...Somebody call Clint Eastwood.

    September 5, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Superior informed all-knowing and most honest TRUTH KING of all the lesser-informed

    .
    .
    I KNOW WHAT CAUSED IT

    September 5, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ron

    Some of these conservatives have the simplest sense of humor. Obviously not too bright.

    September 5, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Matt

    Perhapse they should restore the LORAX to it's original version?

    September 5, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dead Fish

    Rahm Emanuel didn't want to fish in lake Michigan, so he had to order some fish from Erie to send out ahead of the election.

    September 5, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mary

    This happened around the mid-70's as I recall.
    I have fond memories of a beach/state park that over looks Lake Ontario which sits right below Lake Erie.
    Imagine 7 kids packed in a powder blue station wagon for an hr an a half trip every summer. :)
    Anyhow, the oldest boy was our resident class clown always ruining family photos by proudly displaying his middle finger at the last possible moment before click of the camera.
    Well one day myself, my mom and sister were laying on the beach... mom doing her crossword puzzle, me trying to find China... ;) lol, and my sister (the OLDEST) in the family ;) in a candy-striped bikini (two-piece) face down with the strings from the top untied show as to not end up with unwanted tan-lines.
    That summer again hundreds of dead fish washed up on shore much like we see here. My brother decided grab one of em and run over to my sister, gently lifting here panties and SHOVED a good sized carcass inside to rest on her REAR END! I then hear "ah ah JIMMY! and a dainty laughing to follow. Meanwhile Jim says "look mom... Fish on bun"

    Just so you know, I also was at the receiving end of his pranks ... farting in my face or lifting up by my neck when I was a little pea. LOL :)

    September 5, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Andrea

    Dead fish in Lake Erie? What else is new?

    September 5, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. db

    Since when did the Democratic Natinal Convention change their convention location to the south shore of Lake Erie?

    September 5, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      Oh... Oh... Ouch ! ;)

      September 5, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. eric jarvie

    Sewage sounds like a possibilty but will be denied because of the huge financial penalties, dont forget all waste must follow water courses for emergencies such as flash flooding etc,and you can bet that the lake would be expected to receive and be served with waste water outlets for such an eventuallity. Inversion does actually exsist and you can note this when natural water course turns brown or appears muddy for no apparent reason.So heres what really happened. Sewage outlets overspill (actually caused by excessive air pressures.high winds! this causes vacuams in the sewer system which can sypthon) Inversion (we call this annual turnover in the u.k) is also in effect and the combination of this and gravity waste water systems which is stone age engineering using little or no mechanical or technological aids conspire yet again to cause environmental disaster.But dont blame the politicians or environmental agencies who cant establish an international standard let alone the billions it takes to engineer a modern method of safe waste water transit. no i say learn this and campaign for an international safe standard to be adopted as protocol by law!

    September 5, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mary

    Your post only show you to be what you say she is.
    You could make your point without being so crude.

    September 5, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mary

    Golly gee gosh... I think the mud-slinging this election will be harsher from the public, than the candidates themselves this year, from the looks of the posts I see here!

    September 5, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
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