Hundreds of Dead Michigan Fish Rise to Top of Lake, State DNR Investigating

by Jon D. B.

Since mid July, hundreds of carp have been floating to the surface of Michigan‘s Lake Orion, their corpses rotting in the sun. What could possibly be causing such a mass die-off?

Summer is marked by a distinct odor and horrible sight for Lake Oregon Village. So many carp have died in the body of water that the state of Michigan is now investigating the happening with serious concern.

So far, the only casualties are literal hundreds of common carp. Local 4 reports on the bewildering situation.

“I thought it was because of all the rain and the runoff from fertilizer,” says Annette, a local villager. Hundreds of carp are dying and floating to the surface daily, and creating an awful stench and scene.

But Lake Orion Village manager Joe Young says the “unfortunate” problem isn’t due to the water – or any chemicals in it. The water is perfectly clean, Young says.

“It’s not an issue with the lake,” he offers for Local 4. “We have the water checked constantly with the health department!”

So what exactly is going on, then? Local 4 spoke to Sara Thomas with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fisheries Division to find out.

Michigan Officials Say “Three Viruses” are Behind Mass Carp Die-Off

“It’s a smelly nuisance,” Thomas says. She explains that “all signs” are pointing to “three viruses that impact the common carp.” Thankfully, there’s “no way to transmit [the viruses] to people or dogs,” she adds.

Well, there’s a relief for Lake Orion lovers. Yet the question still remains – what are villagers to do with all the stinky, dead fish? Local 4 says that citizens have found an oddly fitting solution.

Apparently, villagers are scooping out the dead carp and taking them to local Eastlawn Cemetery. There, they’re being buried by the hundreds into huge grave-pits dug especially for the fish. Peculiar times call for peculiar measures.

Thomas says the viruses typically last for a few weeks at a time. And once they’ve run their course, the carp should continue on in Lake Orion as per usual. The same, hopefully, will go for the local villagers, too, who are eager to return to swimming and boating in the lake. Sans hundreds of dead fish carcasses, that is.

As for the common carp, the species is exactly what its name suggests: common. The large (sometimes gargantuan) fish are found statewide in Michigan, as well as the Great Lakes, large inland lakes and reservoirs. They also inhabit large and small rivers, swamps, canals and drains, cites the state’s DNR. In general, carp prefer shallow, muddy habitats with aquatic vegetation. The common species begin spawning in springtime, and their feeding and reproductive rituals during this time can increase Michigan water turbidity considerably.