200 dead fish at Fountain Lake baffles biologists

Published: Apr. 17, 2014 at 9:54 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 27, 2014 at 8:46 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond biologists are busy trying to figure out what killed a certain type of fish at Fountain Lake in Byrd Park. There have been fish kills at the lake before, but biologists say this incident is unusual.

On Thursday, Douglyne Wallace was out for a walk and 9-year-old Alexander Rizzi was feeding the geese. Only a few feet away were dozens of dead fish.

"Just to see them floating kind of bothers me a little bit," said Wallace.

"It makes me feel like scared," said Rizzi. "Because you can see dead fish, it's like very weird."

A biologist with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality says the fish had been dead about 24 hours before the fish kill was reported. Biologists say only the blue gills are dead and they don't know why, but they do have some theories.

"Some of the water samples showed the pH, the acidity level, was unusually high which indicates some kind of problem in the water," said Bill Hayden with the DEQ.

Biologists are looking to see if something toxic was dumped in the water. They say since a specific fish was killed, it's unlikely that is a factor.

The DEQ says a biologist also found an algae bloom, which could affect the amount of oxygen in the water. Hayden says fish kills usually happen after a string of warm days, which makes this incident unusual.

"It happened right after we have a really warm spell than a cold spell, so we don't if that had some kind of impact on the fish as well," says Hayden.

Right now there are more questions than answers, but Hayden says the strongest indicator is there's something wrong with the water.

The DEQ says the City of Richmond is in charge of cleaning up the dead fish.

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