Fish caught frozen in ice in Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge

You’d think this tale was a bit fishy, but Kelly Preheim captured some real whoppers on camera as proof.

Preheim, who visited the Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge back in 2015, snapped some truly bizarre photos of fish frozen solid in a four-foot wall of ice.

Which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now sharing online: “This is a freeze frame photo on a whole new level!”

Frozen fish in South Dakota’s Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge/Kelly Preheim

The refuge holds this shallow prairie lake in south-central South Dakota, and Preheim is an avid birder. You can read her blog or check out her beautiful photos on Flickr.

Here’s what she says happened during her visit a couple of years ago.

“The lake levels were low due to drought. The fish kill was due to depleted oxygen. When thick ice (particularly if it gets covered with snow) forms on a lake’s surface, it blocks out the sun, and the algae/plants don’t photosynthesize and produce oxygen, thus depleting oxygen levels. If the aquatic plants and algae subsequently die and decompose, this also uses oxygen, further depleting levels, so the fish essentially suffocate from lack of oxygen.

The fish died and floated to the surface. When the weather turned even colder, the ice expanded pushing it toward the shore where it buckled and went vertical. or it may have been driven there by very strong winds. The thousands of frozen fish on the lake attracted hundreds of bald eagles, various gulls and American crows as they fed on the dead fish. It was quite a sight and it smelled very fishy out there for quite awhile.”

One thing is clear. The bald eagles certainly did make the most of it.

A bald eagle surveys the frozen fish on Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge/Kelly Preheim

Photos Kelly Preheim

About the author

Recovering newspaper reporter.

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