Some fish die when golden alga blooms in part of Lake Texoma

Monday, January 23rd 2006, 4:58 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A golden alga bloom in an isolated area Lake Texoma killed a small number of fish over the weekend, officials with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation said Monday.

Most of the fish that died in Lebanon Pool were gar, and a number of fish are exhibiting signs of stress, officials said in a news release.

"We've been keeping a close eye on this pool all winter. During our regular January monitoring, we noticed an increase in the golden alga counts, and fish began dying over the weekend (Jan. 21-22)," said Ferrella March, an environmental biologist at the Wildlife Department. "We'll continue to monitor the situation closely."

Golden alga, a naturally occurring algae, secretes a fish-killing toxin when it blooms but isn't a health threat to humans or livestock.

This is the first golden alga bloom in Oklahoma this year, wildlife officials said.

The alga first appeared in Oklahoma in 2004 in this same waterway. Since then, biologists from Oklahoma and Texas have monitored Lebanon Pool and other at-risk waters for golden alga monthly.

"The presence of golden alga doesn't mean there will be a fish kill," March said. "If the amount of golden alga reaches a certain level, we know conditions are right for a bloom."

State biologists had been anticipating a bloom at Lebanon Pool after testing revealed an increase in golden alga cells, March said.

Blooms typically occur in winter months and often leave a golden-yellow ring around the lake shoreline. Golden alga is found worldwide in marine and freshwater systems. It prefers salty waters.

There is no prevention or cure, but ongoing research is focused on affected inland waters.