The recent carp die-off occurring at Lake Oconee has many homeowners and visitors alarmed and worried. According to WRD, approximately 2,000 carp have been found floating.
However, this type of die-off involving carp seems to be a common occurrence during the late spring. The DNR states that similar carp die-offs have been experienced in other water bodies in Georgia over the past few years. Other states throughout the South and Midwest have also experienced this.
While the carp have been found dead throughout all parts of the lake, Chris Nelson, a WRD fisheries biologist, says the highest concentration of dead carp has been in the Sugar Creek area and northward toward I-20.
“Common carp have been aggressively spawning at Lake Oconee over the last few weeks, resulting in additional energy consumption and stress, and weakening a fish’s immune system allowing bacterial or viral infections to more readily occur, often causing fish death,” said Nelson. “No other fish have been affected. There are a few diseases and viruses that are known to primarily infect common carp.”
Oconee water quality was checked on May 6 by the DNR’s Environmental Protection Division as part of a routine monitoring program, and those results showed good water quality throughout the entire lake. A specimen sample has been sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Fish Health Center in Warm Springs to try and determine a specific pathogen.
When asked why it was only occurring at Oconee and not Sinclair, Nelson said, “Although both lakes (Oconee and Sinclair) are close in proximity, they are still two distinct reservoirs. The carp die-off at Oconee was a natural occurring event, and conditions at Oconee were apparently favorable enough to cause carp mortalities,” Nelson said.