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Massive Fish Die-Off Hits Ohio Shores of Lake Erie

Fish Die-Off
Screenshot via:Fox 8 Cleveland

Thousands of fish have started washing up in Lake Erie

We can all agree that 2020 has been a stressful and bizarre year. Some Ohio residents just starting to return to the beaches on Lake Erie as things slowly open back up from the coronavirus pandemic found an ominous-looking sight among the sand and surf.

Dead fish. Thousands of them. Fox 8 News out of Cleveland reports the fish first started to wash ashore last week near Toledo and now are being found near Vermilion too. Aside from being disgusting and smelly, the sight had some residents worried something was amiss and the reports starting flooding into the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Fortunately, after a little investigation, they realized the only fish being affected were freshwater drum, aka: "Sheepshead." Because the problem is species-specific and it is too early in the summer for destructive algae blooms, the fish are dying because of natural conditions and the ODNR says this is just the nature of the species. ODNR spokeswoman Jamey Emmert told Fox 8 News that as unpleasant as the die-off is, many scavenging species will benefit from the extra meals as a result.

"Every spring we experience a pretty massive fish kill, but it's nothing to concern Ohioans about because this is pretty typical stuff," Emmert told the station.

The wild, fluctuating weather this spring made conditions tough for the drum, which are already sensitive to temperature change. Combine that with the stress of spawning season and it was a perfect recipe for a natural fish die-off.

"It got really warm and then it got really cold and it got really warm again," Emmert told the station. "And it's stressful for us, but typically humans can hack it even if we get pretty frustrated by it."

Considering the crazy news cycle of unbelievable headlines this year, we cannot blame Ohio residents for being concerned when they see more fish than normal dead on the shores. It makes for an ominous picture. Thankfully, it is simply a sign that nature is working as she normally should.

For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels

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Massive Fish Die-Off Hits Ohio Shores of Lake Erie