Larry Cofer, SW Regional supervisor with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife’s Fisheries Division, has confirmed golden algae at Lake Lugert-Altus. According to Cofer, they took their first water sample about two weeks ago after receiving a report of fish washing up dead on the banks of the lake.
“Golden algae is definitely present at the lake,” said Cofer, “and its killing multi-species of fish. It’s somewhat toxic.”
Although Cofer said the algae was toxic to fish, it wasn’t toxic to people, livestock or pets.
“You can still catch fish and eat them if you want to,” he added.
Cofer did say that although the golden algae can be treated in some smaller bodies of water, the lake is too large - so it isn’t economical, plus, it’s too cold at this time to treat.
“The water temperature can’t be below 60 degrees and be treated,” Cofer said, “which is unfortunate because winter is the time when golden algae blooms are more toxic.”
The banks at the lake are lined with a variety of dead fish at this time, and Cofer said he didn’t know how many more would be washing ashore.
“It’s hard to tell if this is going to be a small kill, or very extensive,” said Cofer. “We are just going to have to let it run it’s course and hope for the best.”
Cofer did say that they will continue to monitor the situation, but that there was no way to know how long, or extensive, the kill would be.
Golden algae is a naturally occurring microscopic flagellated algae that typically occurs in brackish water. Under certain environmental stresses, this algae can produce toxins which can cause massive fish kills.