MARSHALL COUNTY, Okla. – Lake patrons in are getting quite a view, and it's not exactly what they expected- hundreds of dead fish washed ashore.
Biologists from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife say they have received reports of about 300-400 catfish washing up dead on shore.
Carlyn Crittenden and her husband were driving along the shores of Bridge View Marina when they noticed hundreds of dead catfish scattered along shore. The sight and smell attracting other unwanted visitors like bugs and buzzards and caused them plenty of concern.
"That’s what I’d like to know…is it nature or is it something else causing them to die?" says Crittenden.
What's strange about it is that it's only blue catfish that are washing up dead on-shore. Fish expert Paul Mauck say the reason only this species is being affected and what could be causing them to die off is all tied into the high lake levels experienced earlier in the summer.
"It’s probably a result of the stress conditions the fish are going through as a result of high water levels, decomposing vegetation breaking down, using oxygen up," says Paul Mauck, fisheries biologist, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife.
The fish need oxygen to breathe. Mauck says blue catfish usually swim 50 feet below the surface. Since there's minimal oxygen at that depth, they are forced to come up closer to the surface where the water is 90 degrees, which is too warm for their survival.
"They are being pushing up to of the water. It’s a lot hotter…not optimal conditions right now."
Experts say this is just a minor event, and it’s only a matter of time before the lake gets back to its natural state.
For any fishermen out there concerned about their catch, biologists say not to worry. Fish caught on the lake are safe to eat.
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