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Thousands of dead shad choke Burlington marina

BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) — The late-winter thawing of an eastern Iowa marina has left anglers and birds with a smelly surprise: thousands of tiny dead shad.

Fish in Burlington’s Bluff Harbor Marina slowly ran out of oxygen during two months of freezing temperatures and ice build-up. Harbormaster Jon Billups tells the Hawk Eye that using bubblers to churn air and oxygen into the marina and keep ice down didn’t help this winter.

The ice thawing exposes the silvery fish, not much bigger than minnows, frozen where they were swimming. Billups says fishermen are invited to collect the shad to use as bait. Pelicans, gulls and eagles have already begun to make meals out of the dead fish.

The shad will likely flow into the Mississippi River as currents return to the marina.

The Mississippi River level was at about 13.3 feet Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. It rose closer to 14 feet earlier this week due to thawing ice, but is set to decline in the next few days.