Experts: Bacteria responsible for killing hundreds of fish in Navesink River
Bacteria is being blamed for killing hundreds of fish in the Navesink River near Red Bank.
Environmental groups have been taking calls from a number of concerned people who witnessed the recent fish kills. Clean Ocean Action representatives say it's because of high levels of bacteria and is concerning.
Experts say vibrio bacteria is the culprit. The dead fish, menhaden, also known as bunker, washed up along the shore of the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers in recent weeks.
“Hopefully the tides will take them out,” says Angelo Grimaldi, of Red Bank. “I'm sure the crabs are going to eat them, stuff like that, but it's going to smell for sure.
Clean Ocean Action says past fish kills occurred in warmer months when hypoxia was to blame. The NJDEP identified the source of the kill as the vibrio bacteria, and now Clean Ocean Action wants more research done on the type of bacteria because menhaden play such a crucial role in the saltwater food chain and are an important food source of other fish and marine wildlife.
Cindy Zipf of Clean Ocean Action says unlike past kills caused from lack of oxygen, the bacteria outbreak killing this fish needs more studying. “It's a concern for the short term what to do with all these dead fish and for the long term to really get this scope and magnitude of this bacteria what's happening and what it means to the food chain,” says Zipf.
Menhaden can often be seen in huge schools just offshore from the beaches, especially when whales are nearby. The bacteria has now been linked to similar kills in this cold season off New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people can get sick from vibrio bacteria, usually by eating raw or undercooked seafood, or exposing a wound to seawater. Severe illness is rare.
It's not known when this current fish kill will come to an end.