The Huffington Post Cavan Sieczkowski First Posted: 09/06/12 09:15 AM ET Updated: 09/06/12 11:54 AM ET
Well, it certainly is eerie.
Tens of thousands of dead fish, along with dead seagulls, washed up on the shores of Lake Erie on Wednesday afternoon in yet another mysterious mass animal death.
Rick Nicholls, Member of Provincial Parliament for the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, is mystified by the mass Lake Erie animal death, telling NewsNet5: "First thing that crossed my mind, is there any potential danger to humans from a health point of view? Secondly, as I got more and more into it, what's the cause of this sudden fish kill in the lake?"
Samples of the dead fish and dead birds have been sent to a lab for analysis. Currently, the Ontario Ministries of the Environment in Canada is pursuing several avenues, looking into whether a spill occurred that negatively impacted the ecosystem, according to NewsNet5.
Another possibility for the Lake Erie fish deaths is an inversion. An inversion is a natural phenomenon that occurs when cold water, which has lower oxygen levels, goes to the lake's surface. This can suffocate the fish, according to CNN.
"Essentially it's a rolling over of the lake," Ontario Ministry of the Environment spokeswoman Kate Jordan told Canada's Chatham Daily News on Tuesday. "Something - whether it be a storm, or cooler temperatures at night, or strong winds - triggers a temperature change in the lake."
However, researchers who tested the Lake Erie waters have not yet observed anything out of the ordinary in their field measurements, such as temperature, pH or oxygen levels, according to the Chatham Daily News. Jordan added, "We did not observe any spill or pollution impacting the lake."
Officials are still awaiting more intensive lab analysis results on the dead fish found at Lake Erie, which included carp, sheepshead, perch, catfish and suckers.
Dr. David Colby, the Chatham-Kent medical officer of health, told The Windsor Star that he has not seen or smelled anything like it before. "All kinds of people were woken out of a sound sleep by a stench and it was like a septic tank was backing up," he told The Windsor Star of the smell of thousands of dead fish that began stinking up the region Friday.
Colby mentioned another possibility for the mass death to The Windsor Star:
He said there are other possible causes for the dead fish such as a fish disease called viral hemorrhagic septicemia and Type E botulism, a bacterial toxin which would kill birds that feed on dead fish. He said he's already seen a sick gull near the dead fish but that is not conclusive evidence.
This would not pose a threat to humans, according to Colby.
Earlier this month, thousands of dead fish washed ashore along the Texas coast from the Colorado River to Galveston Island, Kens5 reported. Biologists suspected low oxygen levels caused the deaths.
The dead fish and seagulls found at Lake Erie is reminiscent of the mass animal deaths that occurred around the world in early 2011. Thousands of dead birds fell from the skies in Arkansas, hundreds of dead birds were found along a California highway, more were found in Kentucky and Louisiana, while millions of dead fish appeared in Maryland's Chesapeake Bay. Dead birds were also reported in Italy and Sweden, along with massive fish kills in New Zealand and Brazil.
At the time, Arkansas residents thought doomsday was near.
"I think the switchboard lit up pretty good," Beebe police Capt. Eddie Cullum said last January, according to Mother Nature News. "For all the doomsdayers, that was definitely the end of the world."