3 million fish suffocate in Salton Sea die-off

Kentuck

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3 million fish suffocate in Salton Sea die-off
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Thursday, August 3, 2006


(08-03) 13:53 PDT SALTON CITY, Calif. (AP) --


Some 3 million fish suffocated in the Salton Sea's largest tilapia die-off since 1999, clogging a harbor with rotting fish that is driving away boaters and fouling the air in the Coachella Valley desert.


"The whole Salton Sea is full of dead fish," said Bryan Brinegar, part of the Environmental Recovery Systems cleanup crew wading into the smelly mess to scoop dead fish into barrels.


The battle for oxygen among booming tilapia population contributed to the heavy die-off, an annual summertime event that came earlier this year because of the unusually hot July.


Salton Sea fish die-offs are the result of natural biological and chemical reactions that sap oxygen from the troubled lake.


Hot weather triggers algae blooms, which die and sink to the shallow lake bottom. Winds then kick up decaying algae and the mix causes a reaction in the water that uses oxygen.


The fish suffocate.


The die-offs increase the likelihood that migrating birds could contract botulism, said biologist Jack Crayon of the California Department of Fish and Game.


"These little floating, dying fish are in effect little petri dishes containing botulism colonies," he said.


The latest die-off is believed to be the largest since more than 10 million fish washed up in the summer of 1999.


"It is how you tell the seasons at the Salton Sea, unfortunately," said David Lawhead, environmental coordinator for the Colorado Desert District of California state park system.


Crayon said the sea's rising fish population contributed to the size of the latest die-off.


In March, the financially strapped Salton Sea Authority cut a $110,000 annual contract that paid for a specialized boat Brinegar used to scoop up dead fish before they reached shore.


URL: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file.../n135359D80.DTL
 



foulshot

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I'd be curious of Randy's(don't know his last name) opinion of this is. He is stationed down at Wister and does fish counts on the sea.
 

mrgadget

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I know that people actually eat some of the fish they take out of the sea....but is it possible to commercially fish the tilapia out of the sea? Are they safe to eat considering the New River, etc.?

There must be some value in harvesting them before the big die-off, even if it's just to grind them into fertilizer. Seems like a big net could take a portion of the fish out before there isn't enough O2 for all of them.

Kinda like game management....
 

Orygun

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<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE </div>
Are they safe to eat considering the New River, etc.?[/b]


The Sea lies in a basin. That basin historically has been covered in water and subject volcanic activity and pf course a few fault lines. There are lots of salts and other minerals in the soil. When it rains or the fields get irrigated, those salts rise to surface and are washed downstream to the Sea where the water evaoprates and the salts concentrate. The tilapia's food pulls seleniuma nd other stuff out of the water. The tilapia eat that food and concentrate the selenium further. The consumption warnings are something to keep in mind. Eating fish from there occaisonally probablyt won't hurt. Eating lots of tilapia from there with every meal over a long period of time will eventually cause you problems.


Personally I've found fish from the Salton Sea to be some of th best tasting fish I've had.
 

PHOnos

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The best smoked Corvina I every had was back in late '50's when my dad and uncle stopped in for another beer in Mecca. The lady running the little bar in Mecca had smoked it.

(No, it wasn't Rosie from the House of Horizontal Pleasures).
 

paulc

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I just feel sorry for the guy who has to count them dead fish.
 


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