CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — UPDATE (May 18th):
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) says biologists have finished another survey and found no additional dead or sick catfish, which they say signals an improvement in conditions.
Agency biologists have covered more than 130 mile of shoreline during surveys as they continue to look for the cause of all the fish deaths, according to a release.
TWRA says there still is no evidence of toxins or chemical spills as a cause.
Testing found normal levels for fish species, and no fish consumption or swimming alerts have been issued for the area,' the release says.
Crews also surveyed areas into Grasshopper Creek and Sale Creek. Additionally, areas from Chester Frost Park and the Harrison Bay area have been monitored.
Depend on us to keep you posted.
Chattanooga residents are continuing to share concerns about what some call a 'catastrophic' phenomenon on Chickamauga lake: hundreds of dead catfish.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency told us Monday that they are continuing to look into why this is happening.
"I grew up on the lake," says Kimberly Saldana. "It's where I fish, it's where I come to clear my brain. I just I love it here."
Kimberly Saldana says she grew up on the lake, an area that attracts families and fishermen. But after noticing the dead fish 2 weeks ago, she says the way of life around the lake is threatened.
"It's catastrophic," says Saldana.
She's concerned about not only the health of the fish, but potential lost livelihoods due to tourism and fishing.
"It's sad for other people that want to come out and enjoy the water and there's nowhere to swim. There's no way people will swim because you're swimming by dead fish," says Saldana.
TWRA biologists first discovered 300 dead channel catfish along the 32 miles of shoreline a few weeks ago.
At that time, the TWRA ruled out chemicals, a virus, or bacteria as a possible cause because the incident only affected one species of fish.
The TWRA told us Monday that after testing the water, levels are normal and the cause is still unknown.
They told us biologists will be back on the lake this week to try and find out more.
They sent us this statement:
"Habitat Protection and Fisheries Biologists have been on the water multiple times since the first reports, investigating the dead catfish. biologists will be back out again this week. Biologists have covered over 100 miles of shoreline in their investigations. TDEC, who oversees water quality pertaining to fish health, has found all ranges to be within normal ranges."
"It feels bad if you're a fisherman and you see lots of dead fish floating around," says Richard Simms.
Fishing expert Richard Simms says that other state catfish deaths show bacterial infections that could cause deaths for channel catfish.
"As long as we know it's not a point source pollution, that it's not a company or somebody pouring pollution into the river, there's really not a whole lot we can do about it," says Simms.
When we asked about possible pollution Monday, the TWRA told us biologists will collect more samples and run more tests as they go back out on the lake this week.
A sense of relief for Saldana.
"I'm excited they're coming back," she says.
Who hopes that soon, the calming waters will be the only sight for her on the lake.