South Carolina wildlife officials are saying there was nothing unnatural about a major fish kill along the state’s coast last week. DNR biologists say nearly 50,000 dead Menhaden fish were found washed up along the shore for over a mile and half from DeBordieu Beach in Georgetown County to Pawleys Island earlier this week.
The story grabbed statewide attention after the Seven Seas Seafood Market posted a picture of the thousands of dead fish on their Facebook page.
State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Marine Biologist Dean Cain says scientists from the University of South Carolina took water samples and visited the area last Tuesday. They determined the fish had died from hypoxia, which occurs when the amount of oxygen in the water drops.
“The dissolved oxygen was depleted from the water and the Menhaden, who need a fairly high content of oxygen to survive, pretty quickly succumb to it,” Cain said.
Although some residents in the area are concerned by all the dead fish, Cain says they pose no environmental risk, noting an occurrence like this is not that rare.
“It doesn’t pose a threat as far as human threat at all,” Cain said. “It’s acutally a naturally occurring situation that occurs up and down the United States at certain different times of year.”
Cain believes the dead fish will be gone within the week. He says the small silver Menhaden will likely decompose on the beach, in the ocean, or become a meal for a hungry seagull.
South Carolina Radio Network’s Patrick Ingraham filed this report.