Tens of thousands of dead fish were found packing a canal in the Hamptons.
The bodies were packed together so tightly that it looked as though you could walk across them. The air was thick with their noxious smell.
Residents of Hampton Bays, N.Y., awoke Monday morning to find their local canal clogged with tens of thousands of silvery, dead fish.
There were thousands and thousands of them down there. Some first believed it was frost in the morning, others thought it looked like ice. They’re all dead up on the beach, in the water, behind the building.
This massive die-off is probably linked a lack of oxygen, officials say. But they are still investigating the source. Under ordinary circumstances, fish extract oxygen that has been dissolved in water as it filters through their gills. When the amount of dissolved oxygen is insufficient, the fish become hypoxic — they suffocate and die.
The New York Department of Environmental Conservation issued a statement saying the closing of locks at Shinnecock Canal early Monday inadvertently trapped a large school of Atlantic menhaden — small silvery fish also known as bunker — in the canal. The school of normally saltwater fish had probably been chased into the canal by predators.
They chased them in here, but unfortunately the locks are closed so it’s just a dead end, they can’t get out. And with the sheer number of fish in here, it just sucks the oxygen out of the water and they suffocate.
This isn’t Shinnecock Canal’s first fish kill, although a couple of DEC officer said they’ve never seen it this bad before! The tiny waterway has seen others caused by algae blooms. In these die-offs, vast films of algae covering the water’s surface suck up the available oxygen, leaving none for the fish.