A mysterious disease began killing songbirds last spring, and despite scientists’ best efforts, they cannot identify the problem, which has abated in some states. 

This giant goldfish was caught July 2 in Minnesota’s Keller Lake, 20 miles south of Minneapolis. Goldfish compete with native species for food, increase algae in lakes and, reportedly, are among the world’s worst invasive aquatic species. City of Burnsville, Minn. Photo

Invasive, football-sized goldfish are turning up in lakes and waterways out-competing native species for food and choking ecosystems with voracious feeding that kicks up mud and sediment, leading to harmful algae blooms.

Officials in Burnsville, Minn. captured nearly 30 giant goldfish, some measuring more than 18 inches and weighing up to 4 pounds in July. “People have unwanted fish in their aquariums, so they dump them into a pond, river or spring,” officials said.

“Released into their favored slow-moving fresh bodies of water, goldfish grow unhampered in ideal conditions not always available in the domesticated goldfish bowl. They adapt to their environment, with unique eating habits and with increased sensitivity in hearing and sight, producing chemicals for temperature regulation.

“These long-lived goldfish are an ecological nightmare. With no natural predators, they transmit disease and parasites as they swim along the bottom of lakes and rivers, uprooting vegetation, disturbing sediment and eating small invertebrates and fish eggs.”

Canadian authorities estimate that as many as 50 million goldfish may inhabit Lake Ontario. The population has exploded in recent years, which has impacted other species,” said Tys Theysmeyer of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, Ontario. “Populations of frogs, fish, turtles, salamanders are all significantly down.”

Where did it all begin?

Sometime during the Jin Dynasty (265-420 AD), the ancient Chinese observed that some of the freshwater carp they were breeding as food tended to occasionally display mutated colors ranging from red to orange and yellow. A few centuries later, people developed ornamental water gardens, which they stocked with a gold variation of the silver Prussian carp, from which goldfish sprang.

During social gatherings, some of the finer specimens were temporarily showcased in smaller containers—the world’s first fish tanks.

Goldfish invasions start with a disconnect between how people view goldfish and what goldfish are like in the wild. “A cute, cuddly aquarium fish can have quite unexpected, serious biological consequences once introduced into a new environment,” experts say.

Environmental officials have been pleading with fish owners not to dump aquarium fish.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommends putting an unwanted fish up for adoption, donating it to a school or humanely euthanizing it with a veterinarian or a pet store’s assistance. Whatever you do, don’t release it into a pond or lake—and don’t flush it down the toilet. In 2019, a 14-inch goldfish was reportedly caught downstream from a wastewater treatment plant on the Niagara River near Buffalo, N.Y.

Don’t miss a rare opportunity to marvel at the numbers and diversity of moths on Fishers Island this Friday night July 17 from 9 p.m.-10 p.m. (and later!) outside the State Troopers barracks adjacent to the Parade Grounds.

Our new “Keep it Clean” t-shirts arrived just in time for summer! We have a limited number in both youth and adult sizes, so make sure to get yours soon.

PLEASE COMPLETE THIS FORM TO REQUEST A SHIRT. If you’d like more than one, please fill out a separate form for each order.

Pick up on Island by texting Michele at 631-800-9394. $40 suggested donation—cash or check accepted at time of pick up. First come, first served!

Show your support on your sleeve and together, we can Keep it Clean to help protect Fishers Island’s natural resources and waters.


Deceptively festive, balloons–both mylar and “biodegradable” latex–pose a grave danger to marine life. Justine Kibbe Photo

Many people think of carpenter bees as nuisance insects that require extermination. In fact, these bees are important native pollinators.

Calling all photography aficionados!

We’ve been so inspired by the images you’ve shared that we’ve decided to hold our first-ever Fishers Island Conservancy Community Photo Contest, where YOU pick the winning photo!

Here’s how it works:

  1. Snap or select a photograph you’ve taken, within the past year, showcasing Fishers Island’s natural splendor — whether that be a sunrise, snow-covered trail, shoreline or shorebird.
  2. Email your photo to ficonservancy06390@gmail.com with the subject line “Photo Contest 2021 — (your name)” by June 25th.
  3. FIConservancy will select and name the finalists.
  4. Then you will vote for the winning image!

We’ll announce the top photograph at our Annual “Sunset on the Beach” event on July 17th (save the date and stay tuned for more info!). In addition to bragging rights, the finalists and winner will receive prizes and be showcased on our website, email and social media.

We can’t wait to see your pics!


Photos: Clockwise from top left: Arthur Anthony, Tracy Brock, Todd McCormack, Marlin Bloethe

Do you have boxwood shrubs or hedges on your property? If so, you’ll need to keep a sharp eye out for a new threat: The box tree moth.

Michele Klimczak, FIConservancy’s Marine Debris Coordinator hauls debris from Fishers Island beach.

Fishers Island is being inundated with marine debris: we’ve cleared and hauled away over 10 tons in the past two years.

Michele Klimczak, FIConservancy’s Marine Debris Coordinator, has the monumental task of clearing this pollution year-round to help conserve our Island and protect our wildlife and community. But there’s still more shoreline to cover and more debris to collect.

We need your help! Do you have a favorite beach or a private beach that you are willing to clear of debris?

Join our effort by adopting a beach. Here’s how:

  • Step 1: Sign up here!
  • Step 2: Review our Beach Cleanup Safety Guidelines below, gather friends and family and head out to clear your beach.
  • Step 3: Text Michele at 631-800-9394 whenever you have a full bag so she can collect the debris and snap a photo of your team with your haul.
  • Step 4: Repeat steps 2 & 3 when you can.

Michele will then remove, weigh and sort the debris, properly disposing of anything that cannot be reused.

Your team’s photo, beach and weight of debris collected will be posted on FIConservancy’s social media (if you’d like) and will be included in our monthly website Marine Debris Cleanup report.

There will be prizes for the top three teams that collect the most marine debris throughout the summer.

We’re so grateful to Michele for her hard work and we thank you for your continued support. Together, we can help conserve Fishers Island and its waters.


IMPORTANT: Beach Cleanup Safety Guidelines

Rusted metal, hypodermic needles, glass and sharp plastic are commonly encountered during beach cleanup. The following guidelines should be followed to ensure safety.

What to bring:

  • Large bags, preferably reusable, in which to place the debris
  • A “sharps container” for items found such as needles, metal or glass
  • A trash/debris nabber, if you have one

What to wear:

  • Thick work gloves to protect your hands
  • Fully enclosed, supportive shoes (no sandals or open-toed shoes)
  • Long pants are preferable and don’t forget sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat

What to do:

  • Bags should be carried an arm’s length from body for your safety
  • Follow the steps listed above and have fun!

Mark your calendars for the 2021 Spring Migratory Bird Count Sat. May 16, 8 a.m.-10:30 a.m. Meet at the Island Community Center. Bring binoculars.