Sleeping with the Fishes

Posted: Jun. 3rd, 2011  |  By JustLuxe Team

Fish are dying off by the thousands in the Columbia River, in Washington State. The Bureau of Reclamation has been forced to run more water through the Grand Coulee Dam, due to increased snow melt, and this is causing Columbia River fish to die of the bends. Pacific Aquaculture’s Bill Clark told the Seattle Times, "We've easily got hundreds of thousands of dead fish."

The bends, which regularly plagues scuba divers if they surface quickly, is caused by nitrogen gas. The turbulent water of the dam is releasing gases in the water, this time plaguing the fish. Gas levels have been at 130% higher levels than normal. Officials believe this problem is only going to get worse for farmed fish; however, the problem isn’t as bad for wild fish, as wild fish can dive deeper to escape the gases.

Pacific Aquaculture’s manager, John Bielka, is worried that this stretch of river will become sterile. "That's going to wipe out not only the fish in our farm, but also the bull trout, the lamprey, the sturgeon and every other wild thing." The Bureau of Reclamation sees no alternative to this problem until the amount of snow melt decreases.