Algae bloom likely cause of huge fish kill

Posted: Thursday, September 28, 2000

KODIAK (AP) -- An algae bloom probably caused a large fish kill discovered in Monashka Bay on Monday, the Department of Environmental Conservation said Thursday.

The agency analyzed water and fish samples taken from the beach at the mouth of Pillar Creek. The samples were inconclusive, but the DEC said in a report that the cause ''appears to be a phytoplankton bloom.''

The agency again warned people Thursday not to gather or eat the dead fish.

After talking with local mariners, biologists suspect a natural phenomenon killed the 5,000 to 7,000 thousand sandlance and juvenile flounder, halibut, sculpins and Dolly Varden.

''We got reports of reddish brown water all the way from Afognak Bay to Anton Larsen and over to Spruce Cape, a huge area, so we're looking at more of a biological effect -- a phytoplankton bloom,'' Jim McCullough, Alaska Department of Fish and Game fisheries management biologist, told the Kodiak Daily Mirror.

Kodiak residents reported seeing similar plumes at Anton Larson Bay, Afognak Bay and Ouzinkie.

McCullough said people noticed the brown color on Sunday and said it was accompanied by a sewage smell.

''That could be caused by a bloom that started to die off and decay, which could have drawn the oxygen out of the water,'' he said.

Decaying plankton could have drawn the oxygen out of the water, killing the fish. McCullough said such an event is common in warmer, southerly waters, but rare around Kodiak.

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