SHEFFIELD LAKE, Ohio– An alarming number of dead fish began washing ashore in Sheffield Lake on Wednesday.
The ghastly sight caught people off guard near the Public Boat Ramp and Beach on Lake Rd.
“We’re all just sitting here like what the heck is happening,” said Alexis Williams. “It looked like they were white caps, but they were dead fish.”
All of the dead fish were sheepshead, also known freshwater drum, and most likely came from across the lake, but light northeasterly winds deposited a concentrated number along the Lorain County shoreline.
Mayor Dennis Bring said he began receiving calls from concerned residents Wednesday morning and by afternoon city workers were cleaning up piles of dead fish.
“I’m very concerned,” said Mayor Bring, “This is obviously our drinking water and we want to make sure that it is safe.”
The mayor notified the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
An ODNR spokesperson told him and Fox 8 News that this fish kill appears to have been caused by an unusually long and cold spring that stressed out the fish during spawning.
ODNR says that multiple species would be dying if the nearby power plant, pollution or virus was to blame.
It’s actually happened before. However, in August 2006 a so-called “natural die off” occurred.
Fluctuating temperatures and flooding killed a number of freshwater drum, shad and perch.
ODNR says the water remained safe to drink back then and is safe to consume and for recreation now.
They will be monitoring the situation, which should end within 1-2 weeks.
“Hopefully that’s all it is,” said Mayor Bring, “I hope that’s all it is.”