Long Island Boaters Face Disgusting Task of Cleaning Out Thousands of Rotting Fish in River

For the second time in a month, dead fish lay floating by the thousands along Riverhead's Peconic River. 

"Not again," boater Steve Waski said Tuesday as he looked out at the bunker fish carcasses piled up near the Riverhead Yacht club.

Boaters at marinas along the river have begun the disgusting and daunting task of removing the rotting fish.

"The smell, really rancid, like at a garbage dump," said boater Christopher Striano.

Low oxygen levels in the river are again being blamed for the fish kill.

According to local officials, predators chased a large school of bunker into the river and there just wasn't enough oxygen to support the influx of fish.

"I was supposed to have my engagement party here this weekend," said a disgusted Shannon Curley as she photographed the dead fish at the yacht club.

"This is just awful. It's unreal. I think we're going to have to relocate."

Last week, Stony Brook marine expert Dr. Chris Gobler attributed the river's oxygen issues to man, saying algae blooms are caused by nitrogen flowing from cesspools and septic tanks.

"This is definitely a problem of pollution and fertilizer and septic tanks," said Christopher Striano.

"We have to address this problem."

Treated water from a Riverhead sewage plant is pumped directly into the Peconic River near the fish kill, but the sewer district's superintendent said his plant is not to blame.

"Our plant is performing well above state standards," said Michael Reichel.

"We are working on a plant upgrade, marching toward better water quality."

Riverhead town's supervisor plans to hire a private contractor to spearhead the clean up of the dead fish.

"If it happens again, this could end up a cesspool, like a river in a third-world country," said Terry Hulse, a homeowner along the river for 30 years.

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