Here's why hundreds of dead fish are washing up at Echo Lake
Published Monday, July 26, 2021 4:39PM CST Last Updated Tuesday, July 27, 2021 7:17PM CST
REGINA -- Dead fish have been washing up on shore at Echo Lake, and other lakes in the Qu’Appelle Valley.
Residents told CTV News dead carp began to appear on the shore roughly two weeks ago, but has become a bigger problem in recent days.
“Depending on who you talk to almost everyone has pulled out at least a couple dozen from their property,” Steve Sunquist, B-Say-Tah cottage owner, said.
Sunquist said he has pulled carp, some as long as three feet, off his property.
Experts believe the significant number of fish washing up on local shores can be attributed to higher than normal temperatures.
“Water gets warmer and it holds less oxygen so there is less for the fish to breathe,” Peter Leavitt, Canada research chair at the University of Regina said. “As it gets warmer, fish respiration, how they process their energy also goes up. So not only do the fish have less oxygen, but they need more so that’s where they get into a pinch in the warm water.”
A provincial biologist said the sight of dead carp on shorelines is an annual occurrence, a shocking one – given carp can survive on little to no oxygen.
“The situation in the southern lakes is going to get worse,” Gord Sedgewick, fisheries biologist for the Ministry of Environment, said.
“We’re going to have more areas of warm water and less areas of deep cold water. I think we are going to see some adverse effects especially on the Qu’Appelle lakes in the future.”
Some say the smell is the worst part, with dead fish, algae and increased temperatures culminating in an unpleasant odor. Despite this, Sedgewick said he does not see any concern with eating fresh fish from the lakes.
“Make sure your septic tanks don’t leak into the water,” he said. “Anything we can do to reduce the nutrient load in these systems is a good thing. If we have more heat, we won’t be able to do much about it.”
The province said it will not handle cleanup of the fish around the Qu’Appelle Valley. Cottage owners, and in some areas park staff, will be in charge of cleaning up the fish.