What's Killing Arkansas' Fish and Birds?


Some of the fish are being sent to Dr. Andrew Goodwin to test at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff's Aquaculture and Fisheries Department. Goodwin said that fish kills are fairly common.

"Every day or two, there's a new fish kill somewhere in the U.S.," Goodwin said.

Goodwin willl test the drum fish for infectious diseases and viruses as well as for parasites. He'll also test for non-infectious diseases.

In the summer, fish kills happen due to oxygen depletion, Goodwin said. In the winter, environmental changes like drastic fluctuations between cold and warm weather can shock fish and kill them, Goodwin said.

Goodwin has not seen the fish yet but thinks environmental influences could have played a big role in their deaths.

"My first impression was given that it's only one species and that it happened very suddenly, it has something to do with a strong environmental influence and probably not anything related to toxins," Goodwin said. "The thing that is likely to impact them is rapid temperature changes, we have had some very cold weather and very warm weather."

Drum fish are not studied often because they are not sold commercially or fished very often, but Goodwin said that simple evolution could be at play with the sudden death of the fish.

"Fish, like other animals, go through boom or bust in the population and that stretch of river had a very strong population of drum fish and when that happens they compete for food and other resources and they may not get everything they need and may not be eating the best food," Goodwin said.

Drum fish eat a variety of things including shell fish.

Goodwin said that it will take at least a week to finish all of the testing on the fish.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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