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What's turning Vt. fish turquoise? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

What's turning Vt. fish turquoise?

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HIGHGATE SPRINGS, Vt. -

"There's a lot of people that fish here," Robert St. Francis said.

St. Francis has fished the Rock River in Highgate Springs for more than 30 years. So, he has quite a few fish stories.

"The catfish I lost," he said. "A big one."

But it's his most recent catch here that left St. Francis and his family with quite a tale to tell.

"It is kind of scary," St. Francis said.

"It was such an off color I asked Robert, 'What is on this line!?' Ah ha," Debbie Bechard said.

Bechard helped St. Francis reel in the strange-colored yellow perch. The trouble is it's not yellow. It's turquoise. And its blue-green color comes off!

"I have been fishing here since my childhood and never ran into something like that," St. Francis said.

"It's very intriguing," said Tom Jones, a fish health biologist at the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. "It looks fairly normal in body shape other than the coloration."

He's only heard of three other reports of turquoise perch in his 15 years on the job. Right now, the state is stumped.

"We don't have any conclusive ideas about what it might be," Jones said.

But Jones says one possibility is a newly discovered protein in perch and walleye in Wisconsin turning mucus turquoise. But it's too early to tell if that's the case here.

"We are certainly interested in abnormalities in fish," Jones said.

And Monday, another angler reeled in a pumpkin seed turning turquoise.

Now, the Department of Environmental Conservation is involved and water quality inspectors were dispatched. While we were shooting our story, we discovered that turquoise color all along the shore line. Until those water tests and tests on the perch are complete, there's no fish on the menu for this family.

Debbie Bechard: I hope to find out it is nothing hazardous because a lot of people fish here and eat the fish and I don't want anyone to get sick.

Reporter Darren Perron: Are you going to eat the fish?

Debbie Bechard: No, I won't.

Testing on the perch is expected to begin Friday.

The Fish and Wildlife Department says if you catch a fish that seems unusual, it may be best not to eat it right now until the investigation is complete. And if you do catch a strange-colored fish, contact the state.

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