(Cleveland) If you live close to the shores of Lake Erie you've probably noticed recently the unmistakable smell of dead fish, and if you've walked along the shores of the lake you've seen them. Those little silver fish carcasses that wash up on the beach are most likely Gizzard Shad.

Darren Bade is Assistant Professor at the Kent State University Department of Biological Sciences. He says the fish typically die as a result of extreme changes in the water temperature. We'll usually see the large numbers of dead fish on the Lake Erie Shores in early Spring or late fall. Bade says Lake Erie is the northern edge of it's range.

Gizzard Shads are small, silver fish with a distinct black dot near their head. They grow prolifically in all the Great Lakes. Bade says gizzard shads are essential to the food chain in the lakes. They eat the organism that eats algea, and are in return eaten by other fish such as steelhead salmon.

Although they're not pretty to look at, Bade says the dead fish usually don't carry with them any toxins and are not a sign of poor water quality.
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