State wildlife officials are investigating a massive die-off of Asian silver carp in the Cumberland River.
On April 23, nearly 500,000 silver carp died within a 24-hour period in the Cumberland River below Lake Barkley in what could be the largest die-off of Asian carp ever recorded in the United States.
WKMS reports the cause of the die-off is unclear, but researchers are hoping that whatever it was can be used as a weapon against the devastating invasive fish species.
State wildlife officials believe the cause of the massive die-off was probably a bacteria or virus.
“Whenever there is one species of fish, you are definitely thinking viral or bacterial,” said Paul Rister, a Kentucky Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist. “It’s not anything water quality wise. If it was oxygen related or chemical related you would see other species.”
Another possible option could be a lack of oxygen in the water, but Kentucky Fisheries Director Ron Brooks said there’s plenty of it in the water where the die-off occurred.
Brooks said state fisheries biologists are currently testing samples of the dead fish for Lactococcosis, a brain pathogen that has been found in Asian carp in previous die-offs. Biologists expect to have the test results completed in one month’s time.
“It’d be nice for them to be able to isolate that and create a biological bullet to combat Asian carp,” Brooks said.
Asian carp are an invasive fish species that are devastating riverways and aquatic ecosystems throughout the US. Silver carp are one of five Asian carp species in the US. They are problematic because they multiply quickly, and they eat up the food supplies for other species in the ecosystem. They also jump in groups when startled, which can be dangerous hazard for boaters and anglers.
So far, researchers have not found a way to prevent Asian carp from spreading. But the massive Asian carp die-off in Kentucky could hold the answer.
What do you think killed off the carp?