10,000 fish have died ‘due to algae’ in Lake Mission Viejo, California, America

Fish Kill Alert

An outbreak of toxic algae has killed almost all fish at Lake Mission Viejo, a world-class bass fishery.

An estimated 10,000-plus bass, catfish, sunfish and blue gill have died in the past few months at the man-made recreational lake, said Kevin Frabotta, general manager of the Lake Mission Viejo Association, the homeowners association that owns the lake.

Lake staff discovered dead fish in early November and lab tests showed they were dying as a result of a toxin produced by prymnesium parvum, also known as the golden algae, the HOA website stated. HOA employees have been treating the lake with algae suppressor and testing water samples twice a week since then, Frabotta said.

“Our golden algae counts are going down,” Frabotta said last week. “That’s a good thing, but it’s not gone yet.”

Staff stock Lake Mission Viejo with trout every winter, but the association has been delaying restocking until the lake condition recovers. They’ve released about 15 sample trout to test the water, but all died within two hours, Frabotta said.

The next water sample test result was expected this week, he said. Until then, the association can’t decide its next step.

Surrounded by homes and condominiums, the 124-acre Lake Mission Viejo opened in 1976. The lake is currently open for all recreational activities, including fishing, Frabotta said, though there may not be any fish in the lake. Golden algae toxins have little effect on wildlife and humans, researchers say, but dead or dying fish should not be eaten.

The lake became known among bass anglers in 2006 when George Coniglio caught a 19.7-pound largemouth bass, the 13th largest of all time, according to the Bassmaster Magazine website.

“I think it’s possible for the bass fishery to come back, but it will take multiple years,” Frabotta said.

Golden algae were discovered in the United States for the first time in Texas in 1985. They are primitive plants that produce toxins lethal to fish, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department website states.

Golden algae tend to explode in population during the winter months when the water is cold, which gives them a competitive edge over the normal green algae, the website states.

“Usually, when summer comes and the temperature warms up, they go away,” said Richard Chamberlin, a chemical biology professor at UC Irvine.

Frabotta said he’s not sure what brought golden algae to Lake Mission Viejo. The algae may be transmitted by migratory waterfowl, boats and trailers, researchers say.

Courtesy of Orange County Register

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One response to “10,000 fish have died ‘due to algae’ in Lake Mission Viejo, California, America”

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