ITHACA, N.Y. — A fungal infection is suspected to have caused the deaths of thousands of goby fish in Cayuga Lake since April, an official said.
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The fungus is not dangerous to humans and angler fish caught in the lake are still safe to eat, the official said.
The thousands of dead fish are a small percentage of all the gobies found in Cayuga Lake. But the DEC is recommending that people not swim by large amounts of dead fish on the lake because of bacterial colonies associated with the decomposition, said Peter Constantakes, a spokesperson with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, in an interview on Thursday.
Pets should also not drink lake water because of the new problem, Constantakes said.
“DEC continues to monitor the situation,” he said.
The extended winter might have caused the the fish’s immune system to weaken, making them more susceptible to the fungus, Constantakes said.
Constantakes said the DEC noticed the dead fish in April and sent some to Cornell University for testing. Since then, he said, the pace at which fish are dying has decreased.
Constantakes said the dead gobies do not pose long-term health risks on the lake because they will decompose naturally or be eaten by scavengers.
Some dead sunfish have also been found near the northern part of the lake. Their deaths are linked to spring die-offs, which have been common in the area for the past decade, Constantakes said.