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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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Wayne Location: Blounts Creek on Sep 23, 2009 at 03:51 AM
    I only know what i have seen. I saw a crop duster plane working all of the fields around our creek. That night we would have a large rain of 1 inch or more and then dead fish appear. I hear and see the plane and tell the wife to look for dead fish in a few days. Three times this has happened. We see the State Boat come out an collect water samples and the River Keepers make a comment of concern, but we never get the official cause or results from the samples. I think it's chemical run off from rain. Every one is entitled to a opinion.
  • by Chris Location: Kitty Hawk on Sep 8, 2009 at 04:25 PM
    First of all this has been happening forever; it has nothing to do with a gill net. My grandfather made his life work long netting in the Pamlico Sound and raised a fine family from his vocation. I'm an avid recreational fisherman and this fish kill on the Neuse doesn't have a dang thing to do with gill fishing or any other type of harvest...it's a natural phenomena. Let Mother Nature be Mother Nature! PS: all you environmentalists can go to hades!
  • by Obama Snake Oil Co Location: Washington on Sep 8, 2009 at 05:55 AM
    Gator, nothing in this story mentions gill nets yet that is the post? I am with you on this, just stupid to cite an oxygen depleted river to gill nets. Folks, this happens every year and has since the indians had the state. This has nothing to do with pollution as the story goes. It is a natural change in weather. Obama is causing global warming along with his brothers Jim Edwards and Al Gore. Someone had to say it.
  • by Brody428 Location: Oklahoma on Sep 6, 2009 at 10:10 AM
    I was born and raised on the waters of NC and educated in Fisheries at ECU. And anyone who has any knowledge of that ecosystem would know that these types of fish kills are common during the changing weather of the spring and autumn, whether it be from weather influences churning the waters or the increase in oxygen stealing compounds from agricultural polluters common in this area. I don't believe that it is fair to draw a correlation between this kill and the need to eliminate commercial fishing in inner or close to shore coastal waters. As for the type of fish in this kill, anyone who has spent any time in that area knows that at this time of year you can look at a "school" of menhaden wrong and they turn belly up. I would like to say that I was pleasantly surprised at the level of detail that was given in this article.
  • by nomoregillnets Location: Holly Ridge on Sep 6, 2009 at 05:31 AM
    i read the article, and I understand the reason the fish were killed. the point i am trying to make is that there is already enough pressure on the resource as it is. then add in the fish kills. these gill nets are non selective "walls of death". they have already wiped out the gray trout, almost got the redfish, working on the flounder. this is rediculous!
  • by Anonymous on Sep 6, 2009 at 12:50 AM
    1.7 million fish.... imagine if you caught that much.
  • by Gator Location: NC on Sep 5, 2009 at 10:32 AM
    Did any of the commenters below actually read the article?
  • by Anonymous on Sep 5, 2009 at 08:53 AM
    I wonder when someone will blame President Obama for this.Instead of arguing whether global warming exists or not, we need to be concerned with water quality.Low oxygen levels are correlated to high nitrogen which comes from agricultural runoff...in other words pesticides and fertilizers.Pollution is our problem, the fish kills are symptoms of the problem.There are no quick fixes,because the water didn't get dirty overnight.Accumulation of pollution is toxic,whether in our bodies or on our earth!Work together instead of trying to blame someone,we all like food so we all have a level of culpability to the problems involving urban/agricultural run_off.
  • by Bhaskar Location: Hyderabad, India on Sep 5, 2009 at 08:22 AM
    We have an unique solution to the problem of fish kills due to low dissolved oxygen. We use Diatom Algae to increase DO level and diatoms are the natural food for fish, so fish population increases. Diatoms consume the Nutrients in water and thus clean up the polluted water. Diatoms require silica, iron and many other micro nutrients. We provide all these using a patented nano technology micro nutrient powder.
  • by Ted Location: Jacksonville on Sep 5, 2009 at 05:36 AM
    These comments must be from recreational fishermen. They blame every type of kill on nets . It was from all the fishing lines getting the menhaden tangled . If you dont know what you are talking about why dont you shut up?
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