Experts: Bacteria responsible for killing hundreds of fish in Navesink River
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
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
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
It's not known when this current fish kill will come to an end.