Fish kill has been going on for about three weeks, river advocates say

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In this photo supplied by the Neuse River Foundation, a couple of dead fish can be seen in the lower part of the picture near a brown foam in the Neuse River east of New Bern. The foundation reports that menhaden have been dying in the river for about three weeks.

Neuse River Foundation photo
Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 at 09:17 AM.

Dead fish are continuing to show up on the beaches and in the water of the Neuse River, according to river advocates.

The Neuse River Foundation has been unable to get an accurate count of the number of dead fish, which have been dying for about three weeks, according to a release from Neuse Riverkeeper Mitchell Blake. He said though some fish are floating, others are sinking to the bottom, but with a peak of 90 dead fish per foot, he estimates the total number could be in the millions, according to the release.

Dead fish, mostly menhaden, have been showing up in stretches from New Bern all the way to Hancock Creek east of Cherry Point, including areas of Slocum, Beard, Goose, Upper Broad, Northwest and Duck creeks, according to the release.

Six of the dead fish with skin lesions or ulcers were sent to Beaufort for testing and determined to have Aphanomyces invadens, according to the release. Aphanomyces invadens are a water mold that infect menhaden in areas where there is low salinity levels in the water, according to the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences website.

Blake said in the release that the river has issues with oxygen, phytoplankton, stratification, nitrogen and pollutants, among others, making the exact cause of the fish kill difficult to determine.

Very few other species of fish have been reported dead during the fish kill, according to the release.

“I think these menhaden stocks are extremely important to the dynamics of the estuary and millions of dead fish adding to the nutrient load creates its own set of concerns,” Blake said in the release. “As a community, we have to address the impacts we have on the basin and we deserve to know where these impacts are coming from.”



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