ORLAND, Maine -- Biologists and a fish pathologist from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife are investigating a fish kill that occurred on Alamoosook Lake in Orland in the past five days.
Biologists traveled to the lake yesterday, and during their investigation, they found 28 dead brown bullheads (hornpout), 3 sunfish, 2 white perch, and 1 white sucker. Alamoosook Lake has a maximum depth of 28 feet and encompasses 1,133 acres. The lake is stocked with landlocked salmon by the department, and it also contains brown trout, brook trout, smallmouth bass, chain pickerel, bullheads, sunfish, white perch, suckers as well as three species of baitfish.
"We are investigating what could have caused these fish to die," said Peter Bourque, Director of Fisheries for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, "but the warm, dry summer could be the main factor in their death."
According to Rick Jordan, fisheries biologist for the department, the surface water temperature of 27 C ( 81 F) was considered very warm for this time of year. Biologists also conducted water quality tests on the lake. Dissolved oxygen levels were well within normal limits at 7.9 -8.1 ppm from the surface down to 20 feet. Normal range for oxygen levels are 4.0 - 12.0 parts per million. Surface PH levels were 7.1, again in the the normal range of 6.0 - 8.0.
"I^m surprised that with the weather we are having that we actually have not heard of more of these fish kills," said Bourque, "In past years when we have had these hot, humid stretches of weather, we received several calls about different lakes and ponds, with a lot of them coming from the central part of the state."
All the fish that were discovered had been dead for a while, and many were bloated. None of them exhibited either flared gills or open mouths, which could suggest death from a lack of dissolved oxygen. Biologists found no evidence of fish in the process of dying, such as corkscrewing on the surface while at the lake.
Fisheries biologists in other southern regions report of no fish kills, but many did note that they were keeping an eye on streams and brooks. Water levels in many of the smaller waterways are very low, and a continued dry summer could cause some problems.