Dead fish scattered along the St. Francis River has some worried

Dead fish scattered along the St. Francis River has one man concerned
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

POINSETT COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - In Poinsett County, hundreds of dead fish are scattered along the bank of the St. Francis River and one man said he is tired of the smell.

Dean Tucker lives on the river and said the fish have been there for a couple of days.

He said he saw fish floating by belly-up and peeking up from the water trying to get air.

Rob Rash, CEO of the St. Francis Levee District of Arkansas, said because of the flooding in the area in 2011, the dam cannot hold water and that's the problem.

"I've seen some dead fish, but never like this. This, to me, is really a shame," said Tucker.  "I can't ever remember the river being this way and I've lived on the river since 1958."

According to Keith Stephens with Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, fish kills due to low oxygen levels are common during late summer.

Stephens said since fish are cold-blooded creatures, their metabolism rises with the temperature. The more active the fish are, the more oxygen they use.

He also said there are more fish in a system during the summer and that fish and insects that hatch during the spring add to the demand for dissolved oxygen.

There is also more vegetation, phytoplankton, and zoo-plankton during the summer as well, he said.

Tucker said he is afraid the damage to the river could be permanent.

"You can see there's a lot of big fish down there that's dying, not only the big fish the little ones are too," said Tucker. "This tells me a story, that sooner or later, we're going to lose our river."

Rash says they are working with the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and others on a project to ensure this does not happen again.

On Monday, representatives from AGFC took water samples from the river, but they could not comment on its current state.

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