Biologists in Illinois are blaming hot weather for the death of tens of thousands of large- and small-mouth bass and channel catfish, according to ABC. The extreme heat is also threatening the population of the greater redhorse fish, a state endangered species. An estimated 40,000 shovelnose sturgeon were killed in the last week as water temperatures reached 97 degrees.
NBC reported that so many fish died in one lake that the carcasses clogged an intake screen near a power plant. The station eventually had to shut down one of its generators due to low water levels.
Mark Flammang, a fisheries biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, told NBC, "It's something I've never seen in my career, and I've been here for more than 17 years. I think what we're mainly dealing with here are the extremely low flows and this unparalleled heat."
The fish deaths come on the heels of the news that this summer will be one of the hottest in history. According to the AP, the federal US Drought Monitor shows nearly two thirds of the lower 48 states are experiencing some form of drought. The Department of Agriculture declared more than half of the nation's counties as natural disaster areas.
The deaths could severely hurt the fish market. According to the AP, Iowa DNR officials said the late sturgeon were collectively worth nearly $10 million. Sturgeon eggs are used in caviar, thus the high value. The fish are valued at more than $110 a pound.
For more on the drought in America and how it effects our global economy, visit GlobalPost's Drylands series.