Investigation underway into kokanee salmon die-off in Okanagan Lake

PENTICTON - Biologists are working to figure out what is causing a recent die-off of kokanee salmon in Okanagan Lake.

Wind storms or a virus are being considered as possible causes as more than 1,000 kokanee have washed up on the lake’s shore since July 14, according to a provincial government media release.

One theory suggests high winds have pushed warm water from the surface deeper into the lake, raising the temperature in the kokanee habitat and killing some of the fish. Another theory is an outbreak of the infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus.

Tissues sample’s from the dead kokanee are at the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C.'s laboratory in Duncan for analysis.

Last year more than 336,500 spawning kokanee were counted in the lake, the most in more than 20 years, so the deaths are not a concern yet.

Kokanee, a landlocked type of sockeye salmon, are the second most popular game fish in B.C.

Find past stories on kokanee salmon here.

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