The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is warning the public of potential fish kills due to scorching hot temperatures, extended cloudy weather, and storms. Inland Fisheries Technical Advisor Robby Maxwell says when something changes the water balance it can be bad for fish.
“Warm water carries less oxygen than cooler water so it’s real easy to kinda’ tip the scales over and get to the position where we’re in an anoxic or hypoxic condition and aquatic organisms generally need to breathe oxygen from the water.”
Bayous, marshes, and ponds in the southern part of the state are particularly vulnerable to the depletion of oxygen in the water. Scavengers including crawfish, crabs, fish, alligators, turtles, and birds will do their part in helping to clean up fish carcasses. Maxwell discourages the consumption of dead fish.
“When people usually see fish kills the fish are usually bloated, you see them gasping and they’re floating on the top and they are starting to rot. I generally wouldn’t eat them. There always is a chance that it could be related to pollution, spill, or something else.”
Aquatic organisms usually repopulate affected areas by dispersing from nearby, connected, unaffected areas. Maxwell says systems normally recover on their own.
“As long as there’s connectivity between waters and a healthy ecosystem, generally these populations and communities of fish and aquatic organisms bounce back extremely well in a lot of cases after fish kill.”
To report fish kill, visit wlf.louisiana.gov and call the number related to the district you live in.