The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Water Resources announced Friday that it was monitoring a fish kill in the Neuse River.
The affected area includes New Bern near Union Point and Bridgeton, downstream to Riverdale, officials said.
Officials said conditions present in the river this summer make fish kills more likely. They said there was no indication of a chemical or toxin component in conjunction with the fish kill, but residents should always avoid water where a fish kill is present.
Menhaden is the predominant species affected in this fish kill, as is typical under the type of conditions the area has been experiencing.
DEQ said it was also monitoring for algal blooms that have been seen in the area, although cyanobacteria or algal toxins had not been detected.
Officials said the combination of environmental factors, including intense heat, a tropical storm and otherwise low amounts of precipitation, all lead to stratification of waters with very low dissolved oxygen in the lower depths.
Low dissolved oxygen, or hypoxia, commonly occurs during the summertime as the waters warm up and the biological metabolism of river water constituents consume oxygen. These conditions, in addition to the effects of continuous algal blooms, can combine to exacerbate the problem, resulting in fish kills.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services advises that people who see a fish kill, or conditions in which more than a few fish or shellfish are dead, dying, acting erratically or have sores, take the following precautions:
- Stay away from these waters while those conditions exist. Don’t go into the water.
- Do not eat, use or collect any fish, crabs, other animals or items from these waters.
- Do not let pets swim in or eat fish from these waters.
If you come in contact with the water where fish or shellfish are dead, dying, appear sick, or have sores, do the following:
- Remove wet clothing and keep separate from other items until it has been washed.
- Wash with soap and clean water any body part (except the eyes) that comes into contact with these waters. Rinse eyes with lots of clear, clean water.
- Use waterproof gloves when handling pets and items that have come into contact with the waters.
- See your doctor or health provider if you experience any symptoms (e.g., confusion, vomiting, diarrhea) that might be caused by exposure to these waters.
For more information on algal blooms, visit the Division of Water Resources algal blooms webpage.