NEW JERSEY (FOX5NY) - The foul stench of dead fish has enveloped part of Keansburg, New Jersey, as hundreds of thousands of dead fish washed up on beaches and clogged the water of a local creek.
The small bait fish, called peanut bunkers, started washing in on Saturday.
They likely died because of low oxygen levels in the water, according to Bob Considine of the State's Department of Environmental Protection. Considine said predatory fish probably chased the peanut bunkers into Waackaack Creek, where they encountered the stagnant, low-oxygen water and died.
The tide took many of the fish out, but then the fish came back Tuesday morning.
"There is not a whole lot the fish can do. They panic. They try to use more oxygen," said Dr. Paul Bologna, a marine biologist with Montclair State University.
Video from SkyFoxHD showed thousands of fish floating on the surface of the water of a marina, surrounding the boats.
The group NY/NJ Baykeeper conducted water sampling on Tuesday and found dissolved oxygen was between 1.90 and 2.46 milligrams per liter. When dissolved oxygen is under 2.0 mg/l fish begin to suffocate and die. The group says the low dissolved oxygen is likely caused from warm water temperatures and nutrients and organic material in the water.
The town of Keansburg is responsible for the cleanup. Some of the fish have been picked upon by crabs and birds.