28,613 Dead in the Rocky River

written by TheRockyRiver.com staff

The Ohio Division of Wildlife has announced a final death toll of 28,613 fish and other species in the East Branch of the Rocky River, and the investigation into the cause may turn criminal. (VIDEO)


A fisherman called in the discovery on Sunday afternoon and the Cleveland Metroparks, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Division of Wildlife have been investigating the cause of the fish kill around-the-clock this week.

Cleveland Metroparks Aquatic Biologist, Mike Durkalec told TheRockyRiver.com, “The kill had limited impact downstream of Baldwin Lake, and no lake-run smallies were noted dead (fortunately).” He added, “The river will recover in that few miles, but it may take awhile.”

Here is the breakdown of the species lost, as Mr. Durkalec reported on his website: 16 crappie, 72 trout, 22,018 minnows (all subspecies), 3,287 darters, 3,962 suckers, 61 crayfish, 3 frogs, 2 shad, 143 sunfish, and 49 smallmouth bass. The total loss of fish in the East Branch of the river exceeds 90%, which will take many years to begin to recover.

On a lighter note, the cause of the kill is contained and no longer a threat to people or wildlife, and thankfully, the deaths did not extend into the main stem of the Rocky River.

Mike Durkalec has been heavily involved in the investigation since the first report of the deaths, and stated that, thanks to a tipster, officials are close to justice. Although an official cause of the fish kill has not been announced, this would of course imply that the deaths are a result of unnatural foul play. Those criminal details cannot be released at this time, as the case is active and ongoing.

Currently, the collected carcasses are being sorted by species, so that when a suspect is identified, a fine can be accurately assessed based on the “price” of each fish and each species.

Editor’s Note: Our special thanks to Joyce Smith, Nate Adams and Mike Durkalec for their information, hard work and investigation into this developing news.