Golden algae toxin blooms to blame for fish kills at Saguaro, Canyon lakes

Mar 17, 2024, 7:15 AM

Canyon Lake is one of the lakes in Arizona experiencing golden algae toxin blooms. (AZGFD photo)

(AZGFD photo)

PHOENIX — Golden algae toxin blooms are behind recent fish kills at Saguaro and Canyon lakes, the Arizona Game and Fish Department confirmed Friday.

Golden algae, which can be harmful to gill-breathing animals such as fish, has affected Salt River chain lakes — Saguaro, Canyon and Apache — since 2003, the AZGFD said in a press release.

Over the years, humans and other non-gill-breathing wildlife have not displayed negative health impacts after coming into contact with a golden algae toxin bloom.

Hundreds of fish — mostly of the threadfin shad species — were observed to be dead or dying. Other species such as largemouth bass, bluegill and catfish were also affected.

The AZGFD said kills will likely continue at Salt River chain lakes over the next two months and will range in severity.

One saving grace for the fish may come in the form of Salt River Project, which is doing its annual springtime swap to the Salt River, usually completed by late April.

The algae may be flushed through the system because of the influx of water, reducing severity of the kills, the AZGFD believes.

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Golden algae toxin blooms to blame for fish kills at Saguaro, Canyon lakes