Tests Show Fungus Killed Fish In Neuse River

By: Brittany Creamer/ April Davis
By: Brittany Creamer/ April Davis

Experts now say a fungus caused a fish kill last month on the Neuse River in Craven County that killed hundreds of Menhaden.

Some of the dead fish had lesions on them. The NOAA Marine Lab in Beaufort examined six of the dead fish and concluded that the water mold Aphanomyces invadens was the cause. The mold, according to a report given to the Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation, grows best in water temperatures in the spring and fall. Significant rains also contribute to the bottom waters going hypoxic or even anoxic.

Experts say while fish can be infected with the mold and recover, multiple stressors which arise in the river can kill the fish, especially Menhaden.

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Hundreds of fish have been found dead in the Neuse River. The Waterkeeper Alliance said Monday small fish called Atlantic Menhaden were seen floating to the top of the water with sores on their bodies. The Neuse Riverkeeper Mitchell Blake says until test results come back from water samples sent to the Division of Water Quality and North Carolina State University it's hard to tell what the cause is. The Riverkeeper recommends people and pets stay out of the Neuse waters until they learn what is causing the fish to die.

"It could be pfiesteria. We haven't had that in the river in a long time, but it's possible and there is other things that cause sores but what it looks like we really could be seeing the beginning, could be, of a major fish kill," said former Riverkeeper Rick Dove

The last large fish kill in the Neuse River was in 2009 when 100 million fish were killed.

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