Archive for January 4th, 2011

And it keeps getting weirder in Arkansas

Yesterday we heard about thousand of birds falling from the sky in a very small area of Arkansas on new year’s eve…today the news that more animals have selectively turned up dead. This time it’s fish, thousands upon thousands of a particular type of fish. Story again courtesy of THV11 TV News

Arkansas Game & Fish is trying to figure out why 100,000 fish in Northwest Arkansas turned up dead. They were found along a 20-mile stretch between the Ozark Dam and Highway 109 Bridge in Franklin County.
Investigators from local and state agencies took samples from the affected area. [Keith Stephens with Game and Fish] says fish kills occur every year, but the magnitude of this one is unusual, and disease could be the cause.

A pollutant would have affected cross species. Stephens says, “Ninety-nine percent of them were Drum, which is a bottom feeder. It’s not a game fish in Arkansas.”

Some fish collected were alive and visibly sick. They have been taken to the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff for testing.

The affected area was never closed and fishing is encouraged. “Right now it’s fine to fish. If you go out there you can still fish for bass and crappie, catfish, it will be fine. Obviously don’t’ eat the dead fish.”

As for clean up, nature is taking its course. “We’ll have raccoon and birds and things like that will take care of it so there is really no clean up, it’s really too big. It’s contained along the river channel.”

The whole story is weird, but I find the official reaction a tad odd as well. In the same breath that they tell people not to eat the dead fish for fear of toxins, they also say that it’s wonderful that various animals are eating the potentially toxic dead fish as it means the officials won’t have to clean up the mess. Don’t they care that more animals could die as a result of eating toxic fish?

So here’s a theory for you. The drum fish died, why I don’t know, but they died late last week. The blackbirds came along, being the helpful citizens that they are, and decided to save the government money by eating the dead fish. The birds did this as a collective effort, dining at roughly the same time, and then flew off to their new year’s eve haunt over downtown Beebe, AR. Whatever killed the fish then took hold effect on the birds, causing them to plummet from the sky, scaring residents and creating an even bigger bill for the Game & Fish department for whom the birds had eaten the fish in the first place.

Well it’s a theory…and it makes more sense than Game & Fish’s theory that the birds were all struck by lightning or high altitude hail, both of which would have affected a wider range of birds than the rather limited range of birds which were affected.

By the way, true to form, CNN have misquoted Keith Stephens, making it sound like only one species of fish was affected.

“The fish kill only affected one species of fish,” he said. “If it was from a pollutant, it would have affected all of the fish, not just drum fish.”

I’m just waiting for CNN to dig up some kook who will try and link this all with “global warming”. Oops, sorry, it’s already been predicted for both birds (blackbirds in particular) and fish. Hey CNN, check the articles and contact the rent-a-professors cited therein, that should keep you excited and entertained for a few days. You can probably get a week out of it if you make them debate the people who say global warming will cause bigger fish and that birds know how to adapt.

Away from the global warming nonsense and back to the news though. This is a story which I will continue to watch. It’s quite fascinating and I’ll be interested to see what conclusions the tests on the birds and fish reach.

Update: A person going by the alias “Sapper” over at The Blaze has come up with the most sensible possible cause for the mass fish death so far:

Looking on google earth, there is a wastewater treatment plant just upstream from where the fish kill is…….gee I wonder if anyone is checking out a possible spill from that place as raw sewasge will cause exactly this kind of kill. I saw it happen once when I was a health inspector after a major storm caused sewer system to overflow and drain into a bayou. Next day hundreds of bottom feeding fish were floating dead. City was fined $100 per dead fish by the TWC/TNRCC which was the state regulatory agancy. I would bet this wastewater treatment plant that sits on tributary less than a mile from the river and not far upstream from the fish kill is probably a good candidate for being responsible.

Of course we’re still no closer to knowing what happened to the birds, but I note from the other comments on The Blaze that I’m not the only one giving some consideration to the idea of the birds eating the fish and getting sick as a result. End Update


January 4th, 2011 at 12:38am


January 2011

Posts by Month

Posts by Category


Blix Theme by Sebastian Schmieg and modified for Samuel's Blog by Samuel Gordon-Stewart.
Printing CSS with the help of Martin Pot's guide to Web Page Printability With CSS.
Icons by Kevin Potts.
Powered by WordPress.
Log in