LAKE VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO)– The hot temperatures mixed with the low water levels in Lake Vermillion are causing hundreds of fish to die at the spillway.
This is not an uncommon problem with these conditions. There have been fish kills in portions of Minnesota in the past couple of weeks, leaving residents with hundreds of dead fish to clean up.
Glenn Brinley, from Missouri, was camping at Lake Vermillion on Wednesday. He said that although he has seen fish kills like this in the past, they were always due to flooding, not to low water levels.
“I think it’s a total disaster, it’s awful,” he said. “And I realize what did cause it is lower water levels in the river, which probably has to do with some climate change, if we take science into consideration. Higher and lower water levels are always occurring, but they are going through more of an extreme with climate change.”
He also thinks that the current drought that the state is experiencing plays a role in the lower water levels.
The United States Geological Survey says that many, but not all, fish kills in the summer result from low concentrations of dissolved oxygen in the water.
They also state that warm water holds less dissolved oxygen than cold water, so during the summertime, the fish can struggle to get enough oxygen. Other organisms, such as algae, use the dissolved oxygen too.
On warm summer nights during algal blooms, the level of dissolved oxygen can drop too low for the fish and a fish kill can occur.
Another thing that can cause fish kills is toxic compounds released into the body of water, but for this to happen, the toxic compound must be fairly highly concentrated.
Brinley, who enjoys doing some recreational fishing, said that lower water levels can have an impact on some fishermen.
“It definitely changes the locations, availability of fish, size of fish probably,” he said.