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NFC: FW: PRO/AH/EDR> Fish kill - USA (Connecticut)

Source: New York Times 10 Jan 2000 [edited]

Donna Jenks first noticed dead fish under her dock on Lake Pocotopaug. Other
residents of East Hampton, Connecticut, saw live fish jostling up a
tributary to escape the lake.

As thousands of dead fish washed up on the lake's rocky shore last week, and
calls poured in to the state Department of Environmental Protection, (DEP)
state officials gathered lakeside over the weekend to try to unravel the

The fish kill has affected every type and size of fish in the 510-acre
natural lake, the state's largest. White perch, the most-abundant species,
was the most affected species, officials said.

Initial tests failed to produce answers. "This is unprecedented in the state
of Connecticut," said David Leff, deputy commissioner for the agency [DEP].
"So far, the only thing the fish have in common is mucus and irritation of
the gills, which will send the fish biologists looking for various causes."

A winter fish kill is even more confounding. "This time of year, the water
is cool, and there is plenty of oxygen in it," Mr. Leff said, "and you
wouldn't expect to see a fish die-off."

William A. O'Neill, the former governor, who has lived by the lake for
years, described a watery graveyard. "There are many dead fish, thousands.
Others are lying in the water very sluggishly and don't even swim away if
you throw a pebble.There are no septic systems anywhere near the lake, no
industry creating pollution nearby, and that is part of the mystery," he

The lake has long attracted fishermen and is widely viewed as clean.

Officials are running a battery of tests, screening for pollutants, and
natural killers like algae, bacteria and parasites. They are also checking
the water's temperature, oxygen and pH levels, and have called in federal
researchers at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National
Marine Fisheries Service. The typical causes of fish kill do not appear to
be responsible, state officials said.

An infectious disease, for example, usually will affect only one or two
species, or cause some deaths among other animals.  "The seagulls have been
devouring a lot of the dead fish, which has been helping with cleanup," Mr.
Leff said, "and there has been no adverse effect on them."