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Dozens of Fish Wash Up in Flushing Meadows Park's Willow Lake

By Katie Honan | November 24, 2014 4:37pm
 The Parks Department is investigating why the fish are dying.
The Parks Department is investigating why the fish are dying.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

CORONA — Dozens of dead fish have mysteriously washed up along a lake in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, and officials are trying to figure out why.

The fish started going belly-up along Willow Lake in October, according to the Daily News, which first reported the story.

A spokeswoman for the Parks Department said the agency is working with experts to determine why the fish have been dying in the lake, which was built as a wildlife refuge for the 1939 World's Fair. 

"Parks has been looking into this issue with multiple agencies, limnologists (who study inland waters like lakes and streams) and fisheries experts," said spokeswoman Tara Kiernan. "We are looking into all possible causes."

Dead fish had washed up previously at Willow Lake, but not on this scale, the spokeswoman said.

She hypothesized that the cause of death could be "low dissolved oxygen," a temperature change or algae — but will not know until they conduct a full investigation, she said.

The dead fish included gizzard shad, American eels, white perch and carp, according to an official.

The 106-acre Willow Lake Preserve flanks the man-made lake, and is a freshwater wetland with limited access to the public. Fishing is banned in the area, but the lake is known to have many species including carp, American eel and killfish.

The neighboring Meadow Lake is used for recreation and in October the Parks Department announced a plan to help protect the lake from runoff from nearby highways through the Meadow Lake Water Quality and Habitat Restoration Project.

"Diverse flora" in the wetland and meadows will filter water, increase the bird species it attracts and help protect small fish, a spokeswoman for the department said.