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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Delaware Bay Fish Kill Mystery

Tens of thousands of dead small menhaden, also called "peanut bunker", washed up on the shore along an eight mile stretch of the Delaware Bay in an area called Pierce's Point in Middle Township, NJ.

New Jersey officials are clueless as to what killed the fish.  Tests for toxic phytoplankton like "red tide" have been negative.  Experts at New Jerseys Rutgers University theorize that the thousands of dead menhaden succumbed to oxygen depletion caused by the excessive heat.

The area of the fish kill is marshy with much of it inaccessible via land, so the NJ Department of Environmental Protection is using an aircraft to better asses the severity of the fish kill.

Menhaden are an important species in the Delaware Bay and massive die off like this one could prove to be critical in the health of the bay.  Studies are still under way by both state and federal authorities to try and determine exactly what killed such a large number of fish.