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Fish Kill In The Neuse River

Betsy Abare, UNC-CH Institute of Marine Sciences, Morehead City, NC

Tens of thousands of dead fish have washed up on the banks of the Neuse River.  Jared Brumbaugh has this. 

The fish kill at Flanner’s Beach started during the Labor Day weekend and was reported to the Neuse Riverkeeper Alliance Tuesday.  Travis Graves is the Lower Neuse Riverkeeper.

“100 percent of the fish I saw were on Flanner’s Beach were menhaden between the peanut size up to even the one year old and two year old.”

Graves says the cause of the fish kill hasn’t been confirmed at this time. But early indications point to low oxygen levels. Professor of Marine and Environmental Science at the Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City Dr. Hans Paerl says a large amount of fresh water is sitting on top of salt water from the Pamlico Sound, making conditions at channel marker 11 favorable for a fish kill.

“That creates an oil and vinegar situation so to speak where you have two layers of different densities causing the system to stagnate and when that happens the bottom water runs out of oxygen and most of our fish kills that occur during the summer time occur because of that.”

Menhaden that have washed up on Flanner’s Beach don’t show any signs of infection.  Still, Riverkeeper Graves warns people not to swim in areas with dead fish.  Water samples were collected Tuesday and the exact cause of the fish kill should be known later this week.

Jared Brumbaugh is the Assistant General Manager for Public Radio East. An Eastern North Carolina native, Jared began his professional public radio career at Public Radio East while he was a student at Craven Community College earning his degree in Electronics Engineering Technology. During his 15+ years at Public Radio East, he has served as an award-winning journalist, producer, and on-air host. When not at the station, Jared enjoys hiking, traveling, and honing his culinary skills.