Guam – Last week dead fish were found mysteriously washing up along the shores of Pago bay. Today PNC went to Pago Bay to investigate the possible cause of this unusual phenomenon.
On Thursday of last week a student at the University of Guam’s marine lab noticed a lot of dead fish along the short in Pago bay. He took pictures of the fish and forwarded them to UOG marine lab professor Dr. Jason Biggs. “Well one of the things that set up a red flag for me is that this is the first time that it’s ever been noticed for Pago bay to have a fish kill like this,” said Dr. Biggs.
Department of agriculture fisheries biologist Brent Tibbats also examined the photos. He says they appear to be shallow water fish that live in the reef flats and sea grass. Based on the photos, which show that many of the fish died with open mouths, Tibbats believes that natural causes are the most likely culprit. “We do get reports of fish kills almost every year at around this time of year, July and August, when there are very low tides during the hottest part of the day during the middle of the day what happens is fish get trapped in shallow water pools and they overheat and with a lack of oxygen they suffocate actually in the water and then when the next high tide comes in the fish get deposited on shore and people see this,” explained Tibbats.
However, as Dr. Biggs has pointed out this is the first time that they’ve seen this at Pago bay. “Over the past we’ve noticed areas where it happens commonly actually are Tumon bay is one and down along the southeast coast kind of from Ipan beach park down to first beach those areas something about them seems to be where fish kills repeatedly during these low tides during the middle of the day,” said Tibbats.
Nevertheless Dr. Biggs is concerned that something else maybe the cause of this strange event. “Another thing that we’d like to point out is because it hasn’t happened at Pago bay before that maybe the sedimentation could have the same effect because if you have a big load of water bringing down a lot of dirt with it that dirt could mix with the salt water as well and particulate matter is known to clog the gills of the fish and make it so that water can’t pass and they can’t breathe,” explained Dr. Biggs.
The marine lab professor says that choking from sedimentation would also result in dead fish with mouths open as seen in the photos. Pago bay has been known to have a lot of sedimentation after heavy rains. “You can see it every time it rains really hard there’s a plume that goes all the way out and then extends for miles out into the ocean,” said Dr. Biggs.
Tibbats says there is no way to tell for sure what killed these fish because he received the email over the weekend and by then the fish were gone. Tibbats says there are other potential causes for example fresh water can flood the reef flats killing saltwater fish. There is also the possibility that toxins from the land are washed into the water. Tibbats says that if anyone notices dead fish washing up on the shores anywhere on guam to try and collect some of the fish and then contact the Department of Agriculture’s Division of Aquatics and Wildlife Resources so they can study the dead fish and get a better determination of their actual cause of death.
Senator Sam Mabini is concerned with the dead fish found at Pago bay and she has sent a letter to the Guam Environmental Protection Agency requesting their immediate attention to Pago bay’s current condition.