Tens of thousands of dead fish have been found floating in a canal on New York’s Long Island this week and authorities are investigating what caused it.
Countless bunker fish were seen floating near the water’s edge on the Shinnecock Canal in Hampton Bays on Monday morning in what scientists are calling unprecedented. Locals have branded it the ‘fishpocalypse’.
Drone footage taken by Hampton Watercraft shows the unbelievable extent of the stranded fish, all stacked on top of each other on the surface of the water, with the canal looking like it is covered in ice from afar.
Regional Department of Environmental Conservation spokesman Bill Fonda told Newsday that the die-off was most likely caused by suffocation and not chemicals or pollutants and urged concerned locals not to worry.
Unprecedented die-off: Environmental officials are investigating a massive fish kill on Long Island in which tens of thousands of dead fish turned up in a canal Monday
‘Fishpolcalypse’: A massive fish kill carpeted the Shinnecock Canal, both north and south of the gates, on Monday morning
Fonda says fish kills happen when a large number of fish get trapped in a confined area and the oxygen levels drop, leading to suffocation.
A spokeswoman for the New York state Environmental Conservation Department told CBS News that the town of Southampton is cleaning up the rotting fish.
Officials assured locals there is no public health issue.
There were sightings of bluefish – large, aggressive, and fast-swimming predators – in and around the Shinnecock Canal just days before the incident.
This suggests the bunker fish were ‘herded’ into the canal and then became trapped once the river gates were closed for the evening.
‘There was a big school of bluefish in the bay earlier on Sunday,’ Southampton Marine Science Centre manager Chris Paparo told the station.
‘Bluefish eat bunker, and they chase the bunker into the canal like this, and the locks are closed, fish can’t escape, and when they get pushed in they deplete the oxygen.’
From above: The New York Department of Environmental Conservation said the Shinnecock Canal in Hampton Bays was closed at 3 am Monday, trapping a large and dense school of bunker fish
Drone footage taken by Hampton Watercraft shows the unbelievable extent of the stranded fish, all stacked on top of each other on the surface of the water, with the canal looking like it is covered in ice from afar