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Hundreds of dead crappies have risen to the surface, leaving a distinct aroma. | StarTribune.com
Handfuls of the small panfish turned up dead at Lake Harriet, bobbing to the surface and suffusing the air around the popular Minneapolis lake with a distinct fishy smell.
"Just seeing the fish and smelling the fish wasn't a pleasant experience," said Deb Franko of St. Paul, who walked around the lake with her husband, Aaron, on Saturday.
Dawn Summers, spokeswoman for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, said the fish deaths might have been caused by lack of oxygen near the surface of Lake Harriet because of recent steamy weather and decomposing vegetation.
However, there were no dead fish along the shores of Lake of the Isles Sunday. And the Frankos said that when they'd walked around neighboring Lake Calhoun on Saturday, they hadn't seen any dead fish.
Lake chemistry differs from lake to lake, Summers noted. She added that group fish deaths happen every summer, and there is no indication that water quality in Minneapolis lakes has declined. Fish also commonly die in winter when ice cover limits oxygen.
The only dead fish visible at Lake Harriet on Sunday were crappies, with the lake's many other and larger species apparently unaffected. Summers said workers will clean out the dead fish as soon as possible.
Despite the bellying-up of the fish, Lake Harriet was busy with boaters, joggers, bicyclists and strolling families Sunday.
Franko said the aroma wasn't enough to keep her and her husband from walking the lake -- though she thought they might hesitate to return if the fish continued to surface.
A woman reading a book on the west side of the lake Sunday afternoon didn't seem bothered in the least. "I have pretty bad allergies," she noted.
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