Many fish were found dead in Elks lake this weekend.
Groundskeeper Bill Leeper said the cause is a spontaneous lack of oxygen in the water, something he was told can happen in some lakes by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.
Chanute Elks Lodge #806 Loyal Knight Steve Coester said many of the fish that died were carp and drum fish, not desired by fishermen, and many of the bass and crappie likely survived according to KDWPT Regional Fishery Supervisor Shawn Lynott, who Coester met with Friday.
Coester said the lodge was advised that no cleanup was necessary allow the fish to decompose naturally. The dead fish will eventually break down and sink to the bottom.
"There is quite a smell out there, but there isn't much we can do about that," Coester said.
On their Facebook page, the Lodge stressed that it is safe to fish and to eat live fish that are caught.
The Lodge will be making a decision on restocking the lake at their meeting tonight.
A representative from KDWPT could not be reached for more information on the science, but an article from Aquatic Consulting of Tempe, Ariz. linked by the Elks Lodge on their Facebook Page explains the process.
According to the article available at http://www.aquaticconsulting.com/LF-AERAT.pdf, oxygen is absorbed by lake water at the surface and produced by algae in the water during daylight hours through photosynthesis, which requires sunlight. Cold water can hold more oxygen than warm water.
Oxygen is used by fish and bacteria for respiration during the day and night. If there is not enough oxygen being produced by photosynthesis to meet the needs of bacteria, a sudden drop in oxygen levels can occur. Bacteria also reproduce faster in warm water.
Because of the need for sunlight and the fact that bacterial consumption of oxygen is a determining factor in oxygen levels, the cloud cover and warmer temperatures in Chanute in the past week are both potential contributing factors.