Fish kills in Arizona – Golden algae – 05/28/2005

  • October 23, 2013 at 2:15 am #691

    Hi Folks,

    “Yeah, it’s a problem. (But) it shouldn’t keep us from going out and
    recreating. It isn’t a risk to us, health-wise,” Riley said.

    Oh sure, I know I wouldn’t want my family (and I doubt he would
    allow his family) to get in contact with this fishy mess. At the
    very least, one might be looking at a few days of “the trots” after
    accidently coming in contact with this type of infection. I guess it
    could be worse depending on ones immune system.

    Please go on back to the earlier missives RE: Croaker Fish Die-offs
    and the realted fish death anomalies.

    Coincidence? Maybe, but I have seen any number of “red-tides” but
    never to the extent that we are observing recently, never.
    Connecting the dots gives me a very chilling impression of the
    emerging picture.

    Killer algae target fish in Arizona lakes
    Experts working to prevent spread
    Mike Walbert
    The Arizona Republic
    May. 28, 2005 12:00 AM
    Thousands of fish in 11 area lakes have gone belly up as swift-
    killing algae have engulfed waters and choked out lake inhabitants.

    There have been eight reported cases of golden algae killing fish in
    urban lakes and the microorganism has seeped its way into Saguaro,
    Apache and Canyon lakes, Larry Riley, Arizona Game and Fish
    Department fisheries chief, said Friday.

    Experts have been scrambling to rid waters from Gilbert to Phoenix
    of the deadly algae.

    “We’ve been really busy trying to track this stuff, where it’s
    popped up,” Riley said.

    Golden algae, or Prymnesium parvum, secrete toxins that attack
    exposed cells in fish gills, causing inflammation, hemorrhaging and
    eventual suffocation. The algae, which have terrorized western Texas
    waters for two decades, thrive in cooler temperatures and have
    killed fish as big as 50 pounds.

    Golden algae post some health threats to humans if infected fish are
    ingested, according to the Texas Department of Health. It also
    causes ecological damage by how fast they spread.

    “Algae, literally, can double and triple (in size) in 24 hours,”
    said Rick Amalfi, vice president of Aquatic Consulting and Testing,
    a state-licensed laboratory and water-consulting firm in Tempe that
    has been flooded with water samples from private lake managers in
    recent months.

    “It just spreads everywhere . . . and that’s where you get the
    devastating kills.”

    Some believe the algae were either hibernating or simply had gone
    undetected in Arizona.

    “We had been overlooking this species for years. It may have been
    here for longer,” Amalfi said. “And I’m as guilty of that as anybody

    The algae were first identified in Gilbert in March, where they
    wiped out more than 1,000 trout, bass and catfish in the Riparian
    Preserve at Water Ranch’s 5-acre lake. Arizona Game and Fish
    officials say it was the first appearance of golden algae in
    Arizona. Soon after, algae were detected in Saguaro Lake and
    recently spread to nearby Apache and Canyon lakes, Riley said.

    While the devastation is greatest in the smaller lakes, those waters
    can be treated with chemicals, including copper-based algaecides.
    Officials detected the algae in Phoenix’s Cortez Lake earlier this
    month, began immediate algaecide treatments and prevented an

    “If you can find this thing, detect it early, there are chemicals
    and algaecides that can be used to knock this thing back,” said Eric
    Swanson, Arizona Game and Fish urban fisheries manager.

    However, massive reservoirs like Saguaro, Apache and Canyon present
    different problems because workers are limited in performing large-
    scale chemical treatments, Riley said.

    The widespread fish deaths could have some economic and quality-of-
    life impacts.

    Over the past five years in Texas, 20 million fish have died and
    officials have spent about $1 million annually to research the
    algae, said Phil Durocher, director of inland fisheries for Texas
    Parks and Wildlife. Fish hatcheries have also lost millions in
    dollars because waters were infected, Durocher said.

    “It’s kind of hard to raise fish in toxic water,” he said.

    Riley said the economic impact in Arizona could be “significant,”
    particularly at smaller lakes that heavily rely on fishing to draw
    people. However, there are still “thousands and thousands” of fish
    in the larger reservoirs for anglers, he said.

    “Yeah, it’s a problem. (But) it shouldn’t keep us from going out and
    recreating. It isn’t a risk to us, health-wise,” Riley said.

    Officials have been diligently monitoring water systems for several
    months now, but experts say the algae can’t be fully eliminated.

    Amalfi said cooler temperatures in the future would tell whether
    officials can control future algae outbreaks.

    “We’ll be kind of holding our breath this fall,” he said.

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