MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Visitors to Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis are complaining about a bad smell and an alarming sight.

A rise in the water temperature has set off the natural cycle of spring fish kills. Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board officials say it happens each spring, causing dead fish to wash up on shore.

This is what it looked like this afternoon along East Nokomis Parkway at 53rd Street.

Imagine the aroma of dead fish, combined with decomposing plants. We can’t share the smell with you, but we can show you what we’re I’m talking about. The director of environmental management for parks and recreation says even though it stinks near some of the lakes, the fish kills do not affect water quality.

So it’s still safe to swim in the water. It’s all a part of nature. But it’s nasty.

”It’s disgusting. It smells so bad,” Cindy Tuttle said.

(credit: CBS)

Dead crappies, sun fish and bullheads line the shore of Lake Nokomis in some areas.

“It is a natural occurrence that tends to happen in the spring when the temperatures rise quickly, and the fish are under stress because they just spawned, and there is not a lot of oxygen in the water and some of the fish are not able to survive that,” Deb Pilger with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board said.

Cindy Tuttle brought her two young grandsons to the lake to go swimming. But after a few minutes, decided to leave.

“Gross. I heard gross a lot of times. People have come and gone ’cause their little ones, you don’t want them digging a sandcastle in the guts and there’s a lot of flies,” Tuttle said. “There’s fish floating and on the beach. I think if they just came and cleaned up the beach it would be OK.”

The smell is not keeping people away. Some college students drove over from St. Paul and decided to stay for a while, despite the odor.

“Yeah, when we first walked up we thought it was the porta potties, because we were like, ‘What is that smell?’” college student Hannah Mayhew said.

Park and recreation officials say Lake Nokomis is not alone. Other lakes in the central and southern part of the state are affected as well.

“We did have temperatures of about 100 degrees last week so we weren’t surprised we had some fish die. It’s unfortunate, but there are a lot of fish in these lakes,” Pilger said.

The city says crews are assigned to come out here each day to clear away the dead fish, and document how many they find and the exact locations.  If it appears to be an unusually high number, they will report their findings to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The smell should clear up soon, in a couple of weeks. They stress that the water quality is not affected by this.

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