August 6th 2010
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- Since the middle of July, more than 6,000 striped bass have died in Lake Norman. Environmentalists are monitoring the water and focusing their search efforts around Duke Energy's power plant.
Each year, the lake is stocked with hundreds of thousands of striped bass.
Some die as part of a natural process – on average, 200 a year -- but it's much worse this year because the lake is severely oxygen deprived.
Wildlife experts say Duke Energy's McGuire Power Plant made the inevitable come much sooner. The company uses the water from Lake Norman as part of its cooling system and now crews are surveying the lake to monitor the damage.
“Part of that collection not only means collecting the fish but recording the length, the characteristics and any condition the fish are in,” said Duke Energy spokesperson Valerie Patterson.
While a significant number of fish have died, wildlife officials say most of the people who come out to fish probably won't even notice. They say the real problem will come if the same thing happens next year.
“If this type of event happens frequently, every year or every other year, that would put a lot of stress on the fishery. It would be difficult to recover,” Brian McRae, of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, said.
Officials from the Wildlife Resources Commission say this problem is not unusual and they expect everything to be back to normal soon. The commission plans to partner with Duke Energy and N.C. State University to further study why this is happening in lakes across the state.