Home Biologist Massive fish kills in Lake Michigan

Massive fish kills in Lake Michigan


If you’ve been to the lake recently, you may have noticed a large amount of dead fish washed up on the shore.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says they know what’s going on here.

Gaspereau die-offs have happened before. The DNR says we are seeing the first in over a decade.

A fisheries biologist says there is good news for this to happen.

If you were walking on the beach at Grand Haven State Park over the holiday weekend, you might have seen a lot of dead fish.

“Their populations exploded in the 1950s and 1960s. There was basically not much for predators for them,” Jay Wesley, Michigan Department of Natural Resources Lake Michigan basin coordinator, told FOX. 17.

The gaspereau is a fish several centimeters long and silver in color.

DNR’s Jay Wesley says they are one of more than 180 invasive species in the Great Lakes.

“So to think that we’re going to manage just for the natives is just impossible. So we just have to manage them as they come in and change our management strategy to stay on top,” Wesley added.

This one comes from the Atlantic Ocean.

“They come in shallower this time of year to spawn, and that puts them in areas where temperature changes are frequent. ‘they can’t find enough to eat there.’ Wesley said.

He says fish die for both of these reasons and live in fresh water.

“We probably have millions this year,” Wesley said. “No issues with, you know, pollution or anything, and like Michigan is probably the cleanest since the Clean Water Act came out.”

And while your trip to the beach might not be so scenic right now, seeing all those dead fish can be good.

The alewife is a prey fish, and Wesley says to better balance the ecosystem, MNR is considering stocking more salmon.

“Chinook salmon feed exclusively on nearly 99% of their diet is gaspereau,” Wesley said.

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