91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Lake St. Clair fish kills blamed on cold weather

Big fish kills in Lake St. Clair and along the St. Clair river this winter puzzled some residents and scientists in the area. The Detroit News reported that, "the cause of the massive fish die-offs, which began in mid-December, remains a mystery to state investigators...Dead gizzard shad is a common sight this time of year — but not in the tens to hundreds of thousands being reported this winter."

Now, according to the Associated Press, scientists think they've found the answer.

From the AP:

Michigan officials say thousands of dead fish found in the Lake St. Clair area likely died because of the cold weather. The state Department of Natural Resources and Environment says Friday that large numbers of gizzard shad probably died because of the lengthy, cold winter. State officials say they've collected samples and had them analyzed, and they don't suspect a fish virus or bacterial disease is to blame. Thousands of dead gizzard shad were found earlier this year in Lakes Erie and St. Clair, the St. Clair River and the Detroit River. Shad deaths are typical in the winter. The state says most of the dead fish are expected to collect in canals and in near-shore areas. Landowners with large numbers of dead fish should consider burying or composting them.

Residents living near the fish kills are expecting some strong smells in the spring.

One business owner in the area is quoted in the Detroit News, "you won't have to comb your hair — that smell will curl it for you."


Mark Brush was Michigan Radio’s Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.
Related Content