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DEC says cold water is cause of fish kill in Barge Canal

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is blaming the unseasonably cold weather for a fish kill in the portion of the Barge Canal that runs through this Wayne County village.

DEC biologists have documented a large number of gizzard shad dying in Newark and in Irondequoit Bay.

The gizzard shad is a medium-sized member of the herring family. DEC officials said the mortality of gizzard shad in late winter and early spring is common because the species is very sensitive to cold water temperatures.

Gizzard shad are living near the northern edge of their range in the Great Lakes, making them especially susceptible to cold temperatures, DEC officials said.

On March 27, DEC collected and submitted a sample of dead gizzard shad from Irondequoit Bay and sent them to Cornell University’s pathology laboratory for disease screening. Results indicate the fish had a low level infection of viral hemorrhagic septicemia, which causes hemorrhaging of fish tissue. Once a fish is infected with VHS, there is no cure, DEC officials said.

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