Thousands of fish found dead in pond on National Mall

Thousands of fish found dead in pond on National Mall

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(Photo: John Henrehan / @JohnHFox5DC / WTTG) (Photo: John Henrehan / @JohnHFox5DC / WTTG)
WASHINGTON -

Thousands of fish have died in a large pond on the National Mall in Washington. It has happened at an out-of-the-way part of the Mall called Constitution Gardens, which is located between the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the World War II Memorial.

National Park personnel have begun the onerous task of removing the thousands of dead fish.

Eight-year-old tourist Ella Thomas wrinkled her nose as she approached the pond in the early afternoon.

"Smells gross," she exclaimed. “Very, very, very gross."

Ella's uncle, Todd Moir, agreed in an interview with FOX 5: "It smells kind of fishy. Like something fishy is going on here.”

Fishy? In Washington D.C.?

“It's not possible, right?” Moir laughs. First you got green stain -- or paint -- on the memorial, now you got dead fish. What' going on here? We don't have this in Denver."

The pond water has been tested, and no obvious toxins have been identified, according to National Park Service spokeswoman Carol Johnson, who had an explanation for the fish kill.

Johnson said the pond at Constitution Gardens is made of concrete with no "outflow" drainage. It is therefore a "closed system," Johnson pointed out. "[The pond] can't flush itself out. It's also very shallow. And, so what happens is the water heats up, and then the last couple of days the temperature dropped. Algae dies, and as it decomposes, it takes oxygen out of the water and fish die."

Johnson said similar fish kills have happened in previous years. The bass and carp in the pond appear to be surviving. It is the sunfish which are dying by the thousand.

National Park Service workers are wading in and scooping out the dead fish with nets.

Johnson also told us the concrete pond was installed in the 1970s, and the government now realizes the design was flawed. Johnson said there has been discussion of a redesign of that part of the Mall, including the large pond, but no money has been appropriated for such a project.

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