UPDATE: NC Health Director : Stay Away From Dead Fish

By: April Davis
By: April Davis

Dead fish are a familiar sight in rivers and creeks across the east after hurricane Irene, and the North Carolina Division of Public Health warns people to avoid eating or touching the dead fish.

State health director Dr. Jeff Engel says fish kills often result from low oxygen levels in the water, but after a hurricane and flooding, they can not rule out chemical contamination. They also suggest people avoid swimming in water where dead fish have been found.

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WITN has received many reports of bad odors coming from waterways across the east, and one person says we haven't smelled the worst of it yet.

Dead fish are washing ashore by the hundreds in some areas because oxygen levels all but disappeared in the water during hurricane Irene. Officials at the North Carolina Estuarium in Washington say they expect thousands more dead fish have yet to surface, but that's not the only thing we're smelling.

"A lot of what you smell is hydrogen sulfide, and that comes from masses of decaying plant material up in the swamps and marshes back in there up the river and places that have been flushed out by the storm,"said Estuarium Manager Blount Rumley.

Rumley says although it smells bad now, it is part of a natural process and within a few weeks the water should return to normal.


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  • by smackeral on Sep 15, 2011 at 07:46 PM
    The water in the Pamlico has gotten much better. The mullet are jumping and schools of bait fish were all around this afternoon.
  • by Sam Location: Kitty Hawk on Sep 8, 2011 at 06:46 AM
    The fishing just has been way down as of late.
    • reply
      by Bud on Sep 8, 2011 at 12:33 PM in reply to Sam
      Hey Sam, just went out at Morehead City/Atlantic Beach and busted the Spanish Mackerel bigtime. Also caught some big jacks and then the 5 foot sharks came in and started eating everything you set the hook on which was fun too. Give me a location and date and we'll have to go wet a line sometime.
  • by Anonymous on Sep 8, 2011 at 06:42 AM
    Bring Rahm Emanuel here.He will clean them up.
  • by TJ Location: Washington on Sep 8, 2011 at 05:48 AM
    Free food!!!!
  • by To Richard on Sep 8, 2011 at 12:01 AM
    So you only eat fish that are alive?
  • by Tony Location: GVegas on Sep 7, 2011 at 11:51 PM
    All the fish I eat are dead
  • by Richard Location: Edenton on Sep 7, 2011 at 10:02 PM
    Who would eat a dead fish?
  • by Josephus Jr Location: Beare Grass on Sep 7, 2011 at 09:45 PM
    Glad you told me about dat der..My Friends & I were just fixin' to fry up a batch of dim with hushpups
  • by voter Location: nc on Sep 7, 2011 at 09:29 PM
    and you probably shouldn't rub the slime into your hair to keep it in place either.
  • by Dave Davis Location: Trent Woods/New Bern area on Sep 7, 2011 at 07:31 PM
    Yes the smell started right after the storm. The low swampy area between my house and the Trent River smells like a stagnant pond, full of muck & decaying vegetation
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