UPDATED NUMBER: Fish Kill And "Rotten Egg" Situation On Neuse River

At least 4 million dead fish line the Neuse River in New Bern.

River keeper Larry Baldwin says the number has increased dramatically due to lack of oxygen and pollution in the river.

The fish can be seen from Slocum Creek to Clubfoot Creek in New Bern. The primary species involved is the Atlantic Menhaden.

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First is a fish kill.

About 1.75 million fish went belly up on the south side of the Neuse River, with the highest concentration about two miles east of Black Beacon Point and Johnson Point in Craven County.

According to Larry Baldwin, there were also reports of small numbers of dead fish to the east of that location, as far as Carolina Pines.

The primary species involved is Menhaden, says Baldwin, but crabs and larger fish species were also discovered. He said there were no lesions on any of the fish involved.

Second is a water quality issue involving the harbor area of Fairfield Harbour.

Baldwin said the water color remains the color of pea soup. He reports "the odor of hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg) was still evident and will probably persist for a day or two. While there is no real, immediate danger to humans, all attempts should be made to avoid long-term exposure to the gasses."

"This is a natural phenomenon," Baldwin reports. "The harbour and canal water, which is not a fast-flushing system, is shallow and has been extremely warm and the recent cold front and cooler caused the top surface to cool and the bottom water to rise to the top creating a convection turn over of the water column. The bottom sediments have a layer of decaying algae and bacteria. This convection action is causing the decaying bacteria and other organic material to be carried to the top of the water column where it is exposed and gives off hydrogen sulfide gas. The smell is typically that of "swamp gas", rotten eggs and sewage. It will likely take a day or two for the smell to dissipate, but it will eventually go away."

Baldwin said monitoring and investigation will continue throughout the weekend.

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