Dead fish wash up on Richland's waterfront after record salmon run

Dead fish wash up on Richland's waterfront after record salmon run »Play Video
RICHLAND, Wash. -- We got your calls about dead fish washing up along the Columbia River.

It was off-putting to people down at Howard Amon.

Dead, stinky fish are turning people away from Richland's waterfront.

It's not what Eilleen is used to seeing.

"I enjoy watching the birds and seeing some fish jump and there's a heron that we try to spot every day."

It looks bad and it smells even worse.

Loads of dead salmon have washed up all along the Columbia River, especially at Howard Amon Park. But even though the stench is pretty unbearable, experts tell KEPR it's actually a very good sign for ecology of our area.

"It's a really good sign, the salmon washing up, that our river is healthy and they've come back into the area, they're successfully spawned, now they're washing up. It's all part of the natural cycle," says Wildlife biologist Heidi Newsome.

As to the sheer amount of dead salmon on the riverfront -- Newsome says it's because more than 130 thousand fish returned to our area this year.

That's more than double the amount needed to allow open fishing on the river.

So when they're done with their journey to spawn at the Hanford Reach -- their life cycle is over.

It looks like they had a rough go at it.

Eilleen says she thought it was something in the water from up at Hanford.

Heidi says it's quite the opposite.

"There's nothing wrong with the water in our river. It's actually an indication that our river's healthy because the salmon are there," she says.

So as long as you can stand the sight and smell of the dead fish -- rest assured that our river is healthier than ever.

Wildlife biologists say the salmon run is just wrapping up -- so you might be seeing these dead fish for a few more weeks.