Thousands of Dead Fish Wash Up on Jersey Shore

Officials investigating cause, don't suspect toxins

By Juan DeJesus
|  Wednesday, Aug 11, 2010  |  Updated 9:11 PM EDT
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Thousands of Dead Fish Wash Up on Jersey Shore

New Jersey Department of Environmental Portection

The Department of Environmental Protection is investigation a major wash-up of dead fish along the Delaware Bay in Cape May County. The cause of the die-off is not known and is under investigation.

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Residents of Cape May County woke up Wednesday morning to an astonishing sight: a large stretch of  the Jersey shoreline along the Delaware Bay was home to thousands of dead fish.

The bodies of a small fish known as peanut bunkers lined the shoreline, the majority found in an area of Middle Township known as Pierce’s Point.

The cause of the fishkill was unknown and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, the Bureau of Marine Water Monitoring and the Bureau of Emergency Response were working on answers.

A small silvery fish not often consumed by people, the peanut bunkers play an integral role in the ocean's eco-system.

The peanut bunker, scientifically known as the Menhaden, act as the vacuum cleaners of the coasts, according to Ethicurean.com. Menhaden also filter up to four gallons of water a minute to extract phytoplankton a type of algae and other tiny plants, according to the website.

The fish grow no more than a foot long at most, but are known to travel in schools that can rival the weight of a blue whale.
Officials reviewed results of water samples taken Wednesday by the Environmental Protection Agency and found no indication of toxic phytoplankton species, such as red tide. The EPA is also analyzing oxygen levels in the water.
 

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