BETHEL, Alaska — Hundreds of dead blackfish have been washing up in waters near Bethel, prompting local authorities to assess how the fish were killed.

Students at the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Kuskokwim Campus began finding the dead fish earlier this month, causing officials with the Orutsararmiut Native Council to begin looking into the matter last week, KYUK-AM reported .

Student Jacques Peter Smart said he and his friends started fishing and setting up traps along streams and lakes in Bethel. A few weeks ago, they started finding the dead fish in a shallow tributary from Arthur Dull Lake.

Smart posted about the dead fish on social media, which alerted the council to the issue.

The fish were likely killed by pollution, said Mary Matthias, the environmental coordinator for the council. A chemical leak from a local business or some sort of littering may be behind the pollution, she said.

“We haven’t seen this before,” Matthias said. “So there’s something in the water. I mean, someone’s putting something in the lake.”

Matthias is planning to retrieve water samples from Dull Lake to send for testing. She said she has also notified the Association of Village Council Presidents and the city’s Public Works Committee to see what resources they can provide to help find the source of the issue.

Information from: KYUK-AM,

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