A fish kill along the south shore of the Neuse River on Wednesday is one of those good news-bad news situations, according to Rick Dove.
The good news? As fish kills go, it was pretty small.
The bad news? It could be a harbinger of bigger things to come.
Dove, who is president of the Coastal Carolina River Watch, reported that thousands of menhaden had washed up along the river shore between the Flanners Beach area and Slocum Creek.
He noted the last major fish kill, which happened in October of last year, resulted in an estimated 200 million dead fish. He thinks the tiny menhaden, which are highly sensitive to changes in water quality, have not been able to fully recover from the previous event. He has been looking for the reappearance of schools of them and hadn’t seen many yet.
“They showed up yesterday and I was overjoyed,” he said. “But today they’re dead. They didn’t last a day.”
Dove said that fish kills seem to crop up after heavy rains, when nitrogen from fertilizer is washed into the rivers from fields and animal processing centers, among other places, he said. The nitrogen feeds the algae, which in turn uses up the river’s oxygen, resulting in fish kills.
Dove says he can’t be sure, but he fears this kill may be a harbinger of bigger kills to come.
“It’s hard to predict,” he said. “Maybe there won’t be any more major kills this year, because maybe there won’t be any fish left to kill.”
To report a fish kill, call the Neuse River Foundation at 637-7979 or the N.C. Division of Water Quality at 948-3999.