State biologists from Oklahoma and Texas
are working together to investigate a minor fish kill near the Red
River upstream of Lake Texoma. Biologists believe golden alga found
in water samples taken from the area was to blame. This is the first
time the naturally occurring toxin has been documented in Oklahoma,
and officials view it as an isolated event.
Reports by area fishing guides Jan. 22 of
dead and dying gar and shad in Lebanon Pool, a 150-acre off-channel
lake in upper Lake Texoma, sparked investigations by the Oklahoma
Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Texas Parks and Wildlife
All the initial symptoms of the dead fish
point to golden alga, according to Paul Mauck, south central region
fisheries supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife
Conservation. The alga kills fish by releasing toxins into the water
that cause fish gills to bleed internally. There is no evidence to
suggest the toxins are a threat to human health.
Water samples taken from Lebanon Pool
revealed high levels of golden alga, however, subsequent samples
from the Red River upstream and downstream have been sent to Texas
Parks and Wildlife Department fisheries lab in Waco, TX for further
"We’re going to keep a very close eye on
this," said Kim Erickson, fisheries chief for the Oklahoma
Department of Wildlife Conservation. "Right now we’re optimistic
that this bloom will remain isolated in the Lebanon Pool, but
biologists from both Oklahoma and Texas will be working in the area
taking water samples and looking for any more fish kills."
Texas fisheries biologists were the first
to discover a golden alga fish kill in inland waters in the Western
Hemisphere when a fish kill was identified in the Pecos River in
1985. Since 2001, golden alga fish kills have occurred on 23
reservoirs in Texas. The toxin has also been linked to subsequent
fish kills in North Carolina, South Carolina and New Mexico. This is
the first reported finding in the Red River basin downstream of Lake
Kemp, located southwest of Wichita Falls, TX.
Golden algal blooms typically occur in
winter months, often leaving a golden yellow ring around the lake
shoreline. Golden alga (Prymnesium parvum) is native to estuarine
habitats around the world. It is not known if the alga is a native
or exotic species to inland waters.
To learn more about golden alga log on
The site includes a wide variety of information about harmful golden
algal blooms, including scientific research updates, frequently
asked questions and up-to-date news.
Anglers who see a fish kill or potential
golden algal bloom can the call the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife
Conservation’s fishery division at (405) 521-3721.