KODIAK (AP) -- State officials and the Coast Guard are investigating a die-off of 5,000 to 7,000 fish in Monashka Bay, just west of Kodiak.
An Alaska Department of Conservation official on the scene at the mouth of Pillar Creek Wednesday said DEC and Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists have found five species of fish, including 5,000 to 6,000 candlefish, or sand lance, along with sculpins and juvenile Dolly Varden. The creek itself had live Dolly Varden, according to the DEC, which collected fish and water samples to have them analyzed in Palmer.
''It's wide open now'' as to what killed the fish, said Leslie Pearson, the DEC state on-scene coordinator for spill response in Anchorage. ''There are a lot of unknowns. Could there have been a plankton bloom that was toxic? We haven't ruled out a natural cause. It could very well be a totally natural (die-off).''
Pedro Anton of Kodiak discovered the fish kill Tuesday morning while walking the beach at the mouth of Pillar Creek and notified Fish and Game.
Anton reported that the water in the vicinity appeared to have a chocolatey color, said Lt. Matt Jones of the Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment. ''But (when inspecting the fish) there was no smell and no signs of pollution.''
A Coast Guard helicopter checked the area Tuesday afternoon and found no other fish kills on beaches, no discoloration in the water offshore, and no indications of pollution, Jones said.
Officials have warned people not to eat the fish.
''Until we determine why, we strongly recommend they leave the fish completely alone,'' Jones said. ''Definitely do not eat them.''
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