Dead fish line the shore of Lake Erie in Canada.

Canadian Authorities Investigate Mystery Fish Kill in Lake Erie


Ontario environmental officials are blaming a recent mass fish kill in Lake Erie on oxygen deprivation due to a temperature inversion that caused carcasses to wash up on a 20-mile stretch of the lake’s coast in early September.

Meanwhile, jurisdiction on cleanup was in question as the rotting fish—carp, sheepshead, perch, catfish, suckers, big head buffalo and others—lay on the lake’s beaches and stunk up the region for more than a week.

Initially, testing of the waters had yielded no clues, the Huffington Post reported on September 6. No altered pH or oxygen levels, spills or pollution that could cause such an event. Test results on the fish themselves were still pending. Seagulls feasting on the remains died as well, some residents told the Toronto Star.

The washup was dramatic and quick.

“All kinds of people were woken out of a sound sleep by a stench, and it was like a septic tank was backing up,” said Dr. David Colby, the Chatham-Kent medical health officer, to The Windsor Star, describing the sudden appearance of the fish. He added that he had never smelled or seen anything like it.

Colby at first suspected the deaths could have been caused by viral hemorrhagic septicemia and Type E botulism, the Huffington Post said, but test results ended up confirming, as the Toronto Star put it, that “a naturally occurring temperature inversion brought an oxygen-depleted layer of water from the bottom of the lake close to the surface, causing the widespread kill.”

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gsevalikova's picture
Submitted by gsevalikova on
Out here in California it was the Salton Sea, East of San Diego, and the smell is a "rotten eggs" sort of thing. We have had many small earthquakes around the southland,too. Some news station did a report on an emerging volcano in the Salton mud holes,and the video shows a boiling muddy pond, and "buttes," four of them. You may want to see if geologists can check this out,since volcanoes are acting up everywhere.