November 26, 2013 at 12:16 am #1392MikeKeymaster
Hundreds of thousands of rotting fish have been found along the shoreline of California’s largest lake in a rare winter die-off due to last month’s cold snap.
It’s unclear how many of the estimated 200 million fish died in the Salton Sea, but many were found floating on Friday. Officials said they started noticing the dead fish about two weeks ago.
Water temperatures that dropped to the high 50s and lower 60s – considered near-lethal levels for the fish– were blamed for the recent die-off, said California Department of Fish and Game biologist Jack Crayon.
“It’s the worst I’ve ever seen,” said Gabe Jensen, a Salton City resident since 1997. “The fish are just terrible. I just got over a cancer treatment and the smell’s not helping me.”
Residents may be the ones who have to handle the mess. Funding for the sea’s fish-kill cleanups was cut last year when the Salton Sea Authority eliminated a contract for a boat that scooped up dead fish before they reached shore.
“Nobody had any money (to give),” said Rick Daniels, the authority’s executive director.
The authority now coordinates regular voluntary cleanups, using tools like pitch forks and garbage cans,
Daniels said. The next one is scheduled for March 10.
The Salton Sea is a 35-mile-long lake stretching across the Imperial and Riverside county line. It faces an uncertain future largely because of agreements sending water to more populated San Diego. Experts believe the lake, already dependent on water flows to balance high salinity, is on a perilous track threatening the health of wildlife and humans in the area.
Jay Calderon, The Desert Sun
Hundreds of thousands of dead tilapia fish surround the shoreline in the community of Desert Shores on the west side of the Salton Sea Friday.
WINTER DIE-OFFS RARE
The cold-water fish-kill at the Salton Sea differs from the warm-water “green tide” kill last August that claimed an estimated 3 million tilapia.
There’s no official fish-kill tracking, but the summer die-offs are more common, while winter die-offs are pretty rare.
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