Sep 12, 2007

Algae Bloom Blamed for West Babylon Fish Kill

A "pretty significant" algae bloom in a West Babylon canal was the likely cause of a fish die-off last week that had some residents of a nearby apartment complex reeling from the odor of dead fish, town officials say.

Richard Groh, chief environmental analyst with the Babylon Department of Environmental Conservation, said Friday the town looked into the complaints from residents at the Harbor Club apartments on Milligan Road on Tuesday and found evidence of an algae bloom.

"We didn't see any evidence of any sewage spill or anything like that," Groh said. "We did see evidence of a pretty significant algae bloom with masses of the algae floating around and the water was sort of a reddish coffee color."

An algae bloom occurs when nutrients enter the water, causing the algae to bloom, then decompose, which depletes the water of oxygen.

Then, what probably happened was a school of fish entered the canal, and used up the remaining oxygen and died.

It is not unusual at this time of year, Groh said, as warmer water contains less oxygen.

"The algae blooms, you have warm water temperatures and then you have abundant fish. All tied together those factors make for ... fish kills," he said.