On Long Island, Southhampton residents woke up to a gruesome sight on Monday morning: thousands and thousands of dead fish, all clustered and floating in the Shinnecock canal.
Before the canal locks were opened to let the bodies flow out, the dead menhaden (or bunker) fish were so tightly packed that you could barely see water in areas.
A combination of factors most likely contributed to the massive die-off. Christopher Gobler, who directs the marine science program at Stony Brook University, told the East Hampton Star that predators probably pushed a massive school of the creatures up into the canal. Peconic Baykeeper Sean O’Neill told the Star that the supermoon probably created a massive tide, contributing to a flood of fish up the canal on Sunday night.
Then, the canal locks closed.
With the locks closed, the flow of water stopped. The thousands of fish would have been trapped, consuming all the available oxygen in the water until there wasn’t any left. With no water flow or photosynthesis at night, none of that oxygen would have been replenished.
That alone was probably enough to cause the die-off. Tests are still pending, but O’Neill said that there didn’t appear to be any sort chemical problem or algal bloom, another phenomena that can kill off marine life.
“I think it’s kind of just wrong place, wrong time,” he told the Star. Sounds like a nightmare-ish “wrong place, wrong time” scenario.
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