ROSWELL, N.M. (KRQE) – Fish are dying at an alarming rate at a southeast New Mexico lake. Experts talk about what’s causing it. Almost two weeks after the first dead fish was reported, Lake Van’s algae bloom is still very large and has a distinct smell.
“Department biologists have been out multiple times over the past week and a half to Lake Van. They have determined that it’s golden algae bloom that is killing fish in the lake,” said Tristanna Bickford, Communications Director for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.
Bickford says there are quite a few ways that a large bloom of algae could have arrived at the lake. They believe the most likely answer is the high temperatures and lack of moisture in southeast New Mexico this summer, which caused the bloom.
“It’s basically a traumatic event within the water. It could be hot or really cold weather, high waters with flooding, or low waters with a drought situation,” said Bickford.
Bickford said there is not much that they can do to remove the algae or the toxins that have been released into the water. It usually takes up to three weeks for the algae to go away. She also said the toxin released in the water only affects animals with gills, so all other animals will not be harmed.
“No there is not, golden algae blooms release a toxin in the water that affects gilled breathing organisms and so anything that breathes by a method that doesn’t involve a gill, so birds deer, any kind of wildlife, humans. It should not have any effect on them,” Bickford said.
The New Mexico Game and Fish Department says it will continue to monitor the lake. They ask anyone who sees a dead fish contact them and warns not to eat them.