New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
Contact: Mark A. Madsen, (505) 624-6135
mark.madsen@state.nm.us

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, OCTOBER 10, 2007:

DEPARTMENT INVESTIGATES FISH KILLS AT QUEMADO LAKE, PECOS RIVER

CARLSBAD - The Department of Game and Fish is investigating the deaths of thousands of fish in the Pecos River near Carlsbad and in Quemado Lake, where bears, bobcats and other predators have been attracted to the sudden food source.

At Quemado Lake, Department fisheries biologists are waiting for water-test results to determine the cause of a fish kill this week. Minnows, trout and tiger muskies were among the fish species found dead in the lake. Biologists say depleted oxygen levels caused by poor water circulation and plankton dying in the cooler temperatures may have caused the fish kill.

The Department is reminding visitors to Quemado Lake to avoid any bears, bobcats and other scavengers that may be attracted to the numerous dead fish along the banks.   

Near Carlsbad, a bloom of golden algae was confirmed as the cause of a large fish kill. Southeast Area Fisheries Manager Shawn Denny said water samples collected Oct. 2 and 5 contained high levels of golden algae (Pyrmnesium parvum), which can be very toxic to fish and other gill-breathing organisms, but harmless to humans, other mammals or insects. Denny estimated that 17,000 fish were killed in Bataan Lake and another 24,000 fish died in an eight-mile stretch of the Pecos River near Malaga. Most of the dead fish were gizzard shad, although some game fish were found.

Numerous fish kills from golden algae have been reported in New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas since 1988.   Several fish kills have been investigated over the past few years along the Pecos River from Brantley Reservoir to Carlsbad and into Texas. The Department advises people not to eat dead or dying fish, and to report fish kills promptly. For more information about the Carlsbad area fish kill or golden algae, please contact Shawn Denny at (575) 624-6135 or shawn.denny@state.nm.us .

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