Golden alga kills thousands of fish in Salt River

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ROOSEVELT LAKE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Game and Fish Department has determined what caused several thousand fish in the Salt River to die.

Officials have announced that golden alga killed numerous fish in a 20-mile stretch of the Salt River where it flows into the east side of Roosevelt Lake.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department began receiving calls about dead fish on Wednesday. A response team took samples of the water on Thursday, and on Friday lab tests revealed high concentrations of golden alga.

Golden alga can produce a toxin that causes fish to suffocate. It’s not yet known if golden alga occurs naturally in Arizona, but it has appeared in more than 20 lakes across the state since 2003.

“We believe that drought conditions and increased salinity may create an environment where golden alga can thrive,” explained Kirk Young of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “Golden alga is found most often in waters with especially high salinity.”

It is not believed that golden alga will be a problem in Roosevelt Lake, but Arizona Game and Fish will continue to monitor waterways along the Salt River.

Arizona Game and Fish reminds everyone not to eat any dead or dying fish that they find. People can, however, continue to eat any fish they catch as long as the fish are properly cleaned and cooked.