ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS - Thousands of dead bait fish appeared in the water off of Atlantic Highlands Marina Sunday. 

The Department of Environmental Protection says the mass of dead fish is a common occurrence.

Peanut bunker fish are popular bait fish and a major food source for striped bass and dolphins.

The thousands of fish floated on top of the water, with some bunched up against the dock and surrounding sailboats.

"I was a little frightened. I didn't know what happened. I didn't know if it was an environmental issue or something else," says Michele Mallamace.

The DEP says the dead fish is due to a lack of oxygen, which is common in the warmer months. 

The agency says it is possible that some of the same fish that washed up in Keansburg and Keyport earlier in the week moved to Atlantic Highlands with the tides.

News 12 has not been told whether there will be a plan to remove the fish out of the water.