DETROIT – A new Michigan Department of Natural Resources online form allows for fish kills to be reported.
The form is for reporting kills larger than 25 fish. When snow and ice melts on lakes, it's common to see dead fish and other aquatic creatures, but larger quantities of dead fish may need to be investigated.
"Winter-kill is the most common type of fish kill," Gary Whelan, the DNR fisheries research manager, said. "Given the harsh conditions of winter with thick ice and deep snow cover, fish kills may be particularly common in shallow lakes and streams and ponds. These kills are localized and typically do not affect the overall health of the fish populations or fishing quality."
Shallow lakes with excess vegetation and mucky bottoms are prone to winter-kill. Fish and other aquatic life typically die in late winter, but may not be noticed until after the ice melts because the dead fish are preserved by the cold water.
"Winter-kill begins with distressed fish gasping for air at holes in the ice and often ends with large numbers of dead fish that bloat as the water warms in early spring," Whelan said. "Dead fish and other aquatic life may appear fuzzy because of secondary infection by fungus, but the fungus was not the cause of death. The fish actually suffocated from a lack of dissolved oxygen from decaying plants and other dead aquatic animals under the ice."
The form requires the water body and location, including latitude and longitude coordinates, observation details, and photos, especially close-up photos that show any external disease signs. Bloody patches, unusual wounds or odd coloration could be signs of sickness.