YouTube video by Blake Deakin: Aerial footage of fish kill in Atlantic Highlands, Aug. 28

ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS — Fish kills are continuing off the Jersey Shore, with the bait fish population is at its highest in years.

Dead peanut bunker washed up off Great Bay along Osborn Island on Saturday near Mystic Island in southern Ocean County. Dead peanut bunker also appeared in Keyport on Saturday and in the municipal harbor in Atlantic Highlands on Sunday.

"These are due to low concentrations of dissolved oxygen in the water. Most likely, these large groups of fish are being chased by predator fish from colder waters, into warmer waters," Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Bob Considine said in an email. "We also have an unusually high number of Atlantic menhaden out there. Our Bureau of Marine Fisheries estimates that the number of this bait fish has not been this high in more than a decade off the Atlantic coast."

Atlantic Highlands resident Blake Deakin told the Asbury Park Press the smell of the fish got worse as the day went on.

Considine said the DEP was not notified of the Atlantic Highlands die-off, which was less concentrated than the other occurrences, and continues to monitor from the ground and in the air with its coastal surveillance flights.

Sandra Meola, spokeswoman for the NY./NJ Baykeeper said it's  difficult to tell where the next fish kill will take place. "It's really a natural phenomenom where they end up. I don';t think this is the last one. I think it's going to move up to all ends of the Bayshore," Meola said.

Resident Vicky Hain said Little Egg Harbor municipal workers on Monday morning  vacuumed  the fish out of a lagoon that goes directly into the bay between Louisiana Drive and Kentucky Drive. . "They cleared most of the lagoon out but there's still fish all around the perimeter, Hain said. She added that crews also had to use big rakes because many of the fish sunk to the bottom of the lagoon.

On Sunday, Denny Esposito said the stink was strong in the area and could be smelled a mile away. "It was really bad. You can't stay there longer than 10 minutes," Esposito said.

A fish kill — which is normal for this time of the year, according to Paul Bologna, director of Montclair State University’s Marine Biology and Coastal Sciences Program — was first noticed last weekend in Keansburg when thousands of dead fish washed up along Waackaack Creek.

Bologna said that in the fishes' panic to find more oxygen, the fish may wind up in a marina or lagoon where there’s not anything natural like a marsh that naturally produces a lot of oxygen, leading to all the fish dying in the same area.

NY/NJ Baykeepers noted on its Facebook page, in talking about the fish kill in Keyport, the situation "can be worsened by polluted runoff, organic material in the water, and warm water temperatures."


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