Botulism is the likely killer of hundreds of birds and fish found washed up on the shores of Georgian Bay from Collingwood all the way to Parry Sound, says the Ministry of Natural Resources.
“The cause of the die-off is unknown,” the ministry stated in a press release, “but botulism is typically the cause of this type of occurrence.” The first reported die-off came Aug. 22 in southeastern Georgian Bay, when the ministry was notified of the unexplained deaths of eight lake sturgeons and one carp. Sporadic reports were received in the following weeks, but the number and distribution increased recently. Wasaga Beach Provincial Park staff have disposed of about 120 dead sturgeons to date. Dead channel catfish, freshwater drum, carp, lake whitefish and one largemouth bass have also been reported.
Dead waterfowl have included loons, mallards, grebes, terns, mergansers, gulls, cormorants and Canada geese. In total, more than 300 dead birds have been reported.
A sturgeon and a grebe were sent for analysis. Although botulism could not be ruled out, the results were inconclusive. Additional samples were sent for analysis on Oct. 6. Results are still pending. Botulism is a serious neuromuscular illness caused by a toxin that is produced by the bacterium clostridium botulinum. The threat to humans is minimal, although dead birds and fish should not be eaten. - Simcoe.