Ali Ralson was riding her 4 Wheeler towards Cape Blossom and came upon a beach full of fish. It appears that most of the fish are stickleback although there may be other species involved too. This would suggest an environmental issue that would impact multiple fish species rather than a pathogen. One potential cause could be harmful algal toxins.
Observation by Ali Ralson with help from Jackie Schaeffer:
This photo was posted by Ali Ralston of Kotzebue. She was riding her 4 Wheeler towards Cape Blossom and came upon a beach full of fish. It kind of looks like sickle fish or smelts. I saw a post from Koyuk with the same type of small fish.
Comment by LEO Network editors:
Thanks for sharing this Jackie. We have shared with colleagues at ADFG and regional organizations. We will stand by for some consults. This does raise some serious questions given recent reports of high level of Alexandrium in Norton Sound, and the huge krill die-off in Shishmaref. The storm event is another recent factor which sometimes is associated to fish die-offs. Stay tuned. M. Brubaker
Comment by Jayde Ferguson:
The photo is quite blurry, but it appears that most of the fish are stickleback although there may be other species involved too. This would suggest an environmental issue that would impact multiple fish species rather than a pathogen. One potential cause could be harmful algal toxins. Perhaps the typhoon warmed and stirred up the water enough to allow for a bloom. I’ve cc’d Alex Whiting from Kotzebue IRA as he has been a good contact for getting fish tested for toxins in a past case last year involving herring that did indeed have high levels of PSP. We could also test some fish to rule out infections, but these would need to be freshly dead (clear eyes, pinkish/non-white gills, not smelly). Please let me know if this would be of interest or possible and I can provide you details. A better picture of the different fish species up close would also be helpful.
Comment by Alex Whiting, Native Village of Kotzebue:
It's not clear to me if these are related to high water issues, because their presence was immediately following the high water. The photos I saw at the time were ninespine sticklebacks and some smaller amount of least ciscoes and possibly one or two more common species. The more concerning situation was the massive amount of krill/shrimp washed up on Sarichef Island last Friday, well after the storm and also adjacent to the area where Alexandrium cell counts were greater than 100,000 per liter in the last month. I think Gay Sheffield and others in the Nome area are working on those. I am still trying to get a lab setup to run toxicity tests in real time in Kotzebue, I have an earmark for it in the current federal budget so we will see.