KEANSBURG — Thousands of dead fish are floating in the Waackaack Creek.

The fish, which also have a bad smell, have washed onto the shore of the creek in Keansburg since late last week, according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

DEP spokesman Bob Considine said conservation Officers and emergency response have determined the species affected is peanut bunker and DEP Conservation Officers and Emergency Response have been on scene the past few days.

"Although the water is tidal, the creek and other surrounding waters where the fish have washed up can get stagnant during certain tides and we believe at this point that the die off is due to dissolved oxygen levels in the water. There was a similar die off last week and last year around the same time of the same species," Considine said.

Considine said Saturday was the peak of the washup, and many fish have gone back into the water or were eaten by birds.

Meteorologist Dan Zarrrow said that warm temperatures at nearby Sandy Hook in the 80s during the past week may have contributed to reducing the oxygen levels. According to the Narragansett Bay Commission, "the warmer and saltier the water, the less dissolved oxygen there can be."

"During the summer it is a fairly common occurance to see 'fish kills,'" because of several factors Paul Bologna, Director of Montclair State University's Marine Biology and Coastal Sciences Program said. "First, warmer water has a lower oxygen saturation. What that really means is that warm water holds less oxygen. Second, most animals and bacteria in the ocean are 'cold blooded' and their metabolic activity is related to temperature. When it is warmer, their basic metabolic rate goes up and the NEED more oxygen," explained Bologna.

Bologna said that when the water holds less oxygen and the fish 'breathe' more oxygen the water gets depleted and essentially the fish suffocate. "This generally happens at night when the algae and plants are also respiring and using oxygen, because during the day they are photo-synthesizing and producing oxygen," Bologna said.

According to the DEP, peanut bunker is also known as the Atlantic Menhaden and is one of the most popular fish used as bait by New Jersey fisherman and are found from Nova Scotia to Florida. In the winter they migrate south the the North Carolina capes.

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