Hundreds of fish die in Lake Arlington

  • Skip Ottolino patrols Lake Arlington, pulling in the hundreds of dead fish.

      Skip Ottolino patrols Lake Arlington, pulling in the hundreds of dead fish. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Moms and their kids play on the beach at Lake Arlington keeping away from the water and trying to stay upwind from the dead fish.

      Moms and their kids play on the beach at Lake Arlington keeping away from the water and trying to stay upwind from the dead fish. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Beach goer Nga Frook of Wheeling looks over several dead fish on the beach, wondering what caused their deaths.

      Beach goer Nga Frook of Wheeling looks over several dead fish on the beach, wondering what caused their deaths. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Dead gizzard shad fish line the banks and beaches of Lake Arlington in Arlington Heights, causing a smelly mess that is being cleaned up one fish at a time.

      Dead gizzard shad fish line the banks and beaches of Lake Arlington in Arlington Heights, causing a smelly mess that is being cleaned up one fish at a time. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Skip Ottolino patrols Lake Arlington, netting smelly dead gizzard shad fish by the hundreds.

      Skip Ottolino patrols Lake Arlington, netting smelly dead gizzard shad fish by the hundreds. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 8/31/2011 5:23 PM

Arlington Heights Park District officials investigating the deaths of hundreds of fish in Lake Arlington don't believe there is any reason to restrict people from using the lake.

"We definitely want to make the public aware that there's no cause for concern," said Anita Pacheco, superintendent of marketing and communications for the park district.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Though swimming never has been allowed in Lake Arlington, the use of the lake's boathouse and paddle boats, as well as fishing, is continuing as normal, Pacheco said.

The type of fish which is showing up dead in large numbers is Gizzard Shad, a species which the park district does not stock in the lake. Approximately 500 dead fish have been removed since the phenomenon was discovered Sunday morning, but Pacheco said she can't be sure every dead fish was a Gizzard Shad.

The park district is working with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to test the water and investigate the fish deaths.

Though investigators are trying to avoid early speculation, they are examining whether Gizzard Shad initially got into the lake as a baitfish, Pacheco said.

According to a news release issued by the park district, the most common cause of such concentrated, localized deaths of fish is reduced oxygen in the water which could be triggered by drought, algae, overpopulation or a sustained increase in water temperature.

Other possibilities are infectious diseases and parasites, with water toxicity being a far less common cause.