Thousands of Dead Fish Surface in Midwest

by at . Comments

Thousands of dead fish are surfacing throughout the Midwest as hot, dry summer weather dries up rivers and causes their habitat to become unsustainable.

About 40,000 shovelnose sturgeon were killed in Iowa last week as water temperatures reached 97 degrees, where they've been with startling regularity.

Nebraska officials have seen thousands of dead sturgeon, catfish, carp, and other species in the Lower Platte River, including the endangered pallid sturgeon.


Biologists in Illinois said the hot weather has killed tens of thousands of large- and smallmouth bass, channel catfish and greater redhorse fish.

So many fish died in one Illinois lake that the carcasses clogged an intake screen near a power plant; the station had to shut down one of its generators.

"It's something I've never seen in my career, and I've been here for more than 17 years," said Mark Flammang of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

"What we're mainly dealing with here are extremely low flows and unparalleled heat."

Unparalleled is becoming commonplace with weather these days, as the fish are just the latest victims of one of the driest and warmest summers in history.

Also suffering like never before? Crops. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows nearly two-thirds of the lower 48 states are experiencing some form of drought.

The Department of Agriculture has declared more than half of the nation's counties - nearly 1,600 across in 32 states - as natural disaster areas.

More than 3,000 heat records were broken last month alone.