Heat, downpours may threaten marine life - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Heat, downpours may threaten marine life

BOGALUSA, La. (AP) - The state Department of Environmental Quality is warning that the heat wave affecting Louisiana could increase local fish kills.

Dry conditions, interspersed with periods of heavy rainfall, threaten the oxygen levels in some waterways. The drastic change in environment is the most common cause of a fish kill, environmental officials tell The Daily News.

During a drought, oxygen levels in a water body diminish. Reduced oxygen in water, or hypoxia, is a common cause in the death of fish.

"In addition to the recent drought, heavy rainfall that occurred this week may have contributed to organic loading and oxygen demand within certain water bodies in southern Louisiana," said Chris Piehler, administrator of DEQ's inspections division. "Unfortunately, such sudden changes in the climate tend to negatively impact the quality of life of fish and other aquatic life residing in lakes, rivers, bayous and tributaries."

A sudden and widespread loss of oxygen in the Pearl River last summer, due to a choking chemical spill from what was then the Temple-Inland paper mill, caused the deaths of millions of fish.

DEQ spokesman Tim Beckstrom said the young fish that were subsequently restocked into the river and the recovering river itself are not in special because of current weather conditions.

"Streams like the Pearl will be less affected than shallow lakes," he said.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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