Monday, November 5, 2001
2001 Gary Valle'. All Rights Reserved.
Dead Fish on Lower
Near the beginning of September,
2001, I was sitting on the bank of the Lower Kern River, downstream
of the Borel Powerhouse, watching dead fish float by.
A friend was supposed to meet me, and while waiting, I
pondered the River. A beaver had gnawed on a nearby Cottonwood
and a few small
dead fish were floating in an eddy and were trapped
in the rocks along the shore. A number of dead fish were
also in the river. I wondered, how many?
I counted approximately 15-20 dead fish on
the surface passing by every 10 seconds. So, that's 120 fish
a minute, or about 7200 an hour. Assuming not all fish were
on the surface, a very rough estimate was 10,000 dead fish
an hour were going by that point.
This was a dramatic number, and difficult to believe, but
as I walked upstream I saw more and more fish littering
the shoreline, and at the head of a small island, there
were literally mounds
of small fish. Maybe the estimate was not exaggerated.
What kind of fish were these and what killed them?
kills can occur for many reasons, but the most common
is low levels of dissolved oxygen in shallow reservoirs,
lakes and ponds. (Both natural and man-made.) Water in the
Lower Kern is released from Lake Isabella, a reservoir completed
in 1953 for flood control and irrigation. Following three
years of below average snowpacks, the lake was at about
20% of its capacity.
Fish on Shoreline,
Mounds of DeadThreadfin
I had heard that a fish kill had
occurred recently at Lake Isabella. Were these fish simply
washing down from the reservoir?
I found the answers to many of my questions in the Bakersfield
Californian article, Fish,
bird die-offs don't worry officials, by Jill Hoffmann.
According to the article, these fish are Threadfin
Shad and they were killed when they entered the Borel
Canal and were flushed through the Borel Powerhouse.
A Dept. of Fish and Game biologist said, "the shad die-off
is not expected to affect the overall population at the lake."