Residents of the Champlain Islands and the lakeshore near St. Albans have reported large numbers of dead alewives washing up on the shoreline. Crews are cleaning up the thousands of dead fish that have washed up along Lake Champlain’s New York shoreline, including a stretch where public campgrounds and beaches are being prepared for opening this spring.
Lakeside residents in Vermont began reporting thousands of dead alewives showing up along the shore earlier this month. Vermont fisheries biologists say alewives, a species not native to the lake, are sensitive to frigid temperatures and likely died off during the winter. Alewives are a nonnative fish species that play a role similar to smelts in large lake systems. Biologists are concerned about the rate at which alewives have established themselves in the lake, and potential ecological consequences to the rest of the lake’s fish community.
The fish are sensitive to cold water. The thousands of dead alewives floating in the water and washing up on shore likely died during the winter, state fisheries biologist Bernie Pientka said.
“We’ve gotten numerous calls in the last week and a half,” he said. “Whichever way the wind blows, they wash up on that shore. The whole length of the (Sandbar) causeway was a strip of dead fish.”
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