2/20/15 Needle fish die-off - Kongiganak, Alaska, USA
Observation: About 1 mile (couple bends) above the Kongiganak, a fish die off occurred due to unseasonable warm winters and floods. Smelts and needle fish are stranded after ice float off from the river channel during winter storms due to the lack of thickness in the river. This happened last year and this year where smelts and needle fish are blown out of the river due to ice break off during a flood. Due to warmer winters, thin ice, and lack of snow...ice in the rivers are breaking off during winter floods causing the fish to die off after the waters subside. This is unusual for our community to see thousands of fish dead in our river after a flood during the winter. With the unusually warm winters with lack of snow like last year we are starting to see this happen. I have not seen anything like this ever since I could remember for the past 35 years. Last years fish die off was the first and recently a lot more fish died off in a larger scale. The community is picking fish off the river while we usually trap them with dip nets.
LEO Comment: This observation has been shared with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Subsistence Division.