Photo by Rick WIndham
Dying carp drift in the shallows Monday at Sutherland Reservior.
Hundreds, possibly thousands, of dead carp were washing up on the north shores of Sutherland Reservoir, a caller said.
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission said they were aware of the problem and biologists were in the process of collecting dead fish for analysis. Their initial thoughts were that it was not an environmental factor like heat, lack of dissolved oxygen or a chemical spill that caused the problem.
When I got to the reservoir, I noticed that the die-off was very species specific. The vast majority of the fish I saw dead were carp. This intrigued me because carp can usually survive the worst water conditions. The fact that I saw only a few other species, really no more than I would expect, to see on any given day around the reservoir, makes me think the die-off is due to some sort of disease that affects carp.
I’m not a fisheries biologist, but I’m going to guess we will find out that it was something like the three or so koi herpes viruses or a similar ailment that killed these fish. Another common name is “carp pox.”
The virus causes the gills of the fish to be unable to extract oxygen from the water. The fish basically suffocates.
It will be a few days before the official findings will be back and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission can make a definitive statement of the cause of this fish kill.