Heat and Drought Cause Massive Fish Die-Offs in the Midwest

High temperatures and a drought that the National Climatic Data Center states is the worst the US has experienced in 55 years are being blamed for massive fish die offs in the Midwest.

The AP reports that about 40,000 shovelnose sturgeon were killed in Iowa last week as water temperatures reached upwards of 97 degrees. Mark Flammang, a fisheries biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, exclaims, "It's something I've never seen in my career, and I've been here for more than 17 years. I think what we're mainly dealing with here are the extremely low flows and this unparalleled heat."

In Nebraska, high temperatures have killed off thousands of sturgeon (including the endangered pallid sturgeon), catfish, carp, and other species. In Illinois, tens of thousands of largemouth and smallmouth bass and channel catfish have died, so many in one lake in fact that the carcasses clogged an intake screen at a power plant. The build up was so bad that water levels dropped to the point where the plant was forced to shut down a generator.

The following facts compiled by the AP illustrate just how bad things actually are:
• Iowa DNR officials said the sturgeon found dead in the Des Moines River were worth nearly $10 million, a high value based in part on their highly sought eggs, which are used for caviar.

• The federal U.S. Drought Monitor shows nearly two-thirds of the lower 48 states are experiencing some form of drought.

• The Department of Agriculture has declared more than half of the nation's counties -- nearly 1,600 in 32 states -- as natural disaster areas.

• More than 3,000 heat records were broken over the last month.

How has the drought combined with high temperatures impacted fish stocks in your area? Have you seen water levels drop? Fish die offs? Comment below.