Sound Rivers team tracks Neuse fish kill

Algal Blooms, Climate Change, Environmental, Fish Kills, Neuse River Watershed, Sound Rivers, Water Quality

Posted on September 14th, 2023

Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop takes a water sample at Fairfield Harbor.

A Sound Rivers team was out on the water this week, investigating the ongoing fish kill on the Neuse River.

Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop, Water-quality Specialist Taylor Register and Volunteer Coordinator Emily Fritz launched at Lawson Park in New Bern on Wednesday, seeking out the locations where fish kills have been reported recently.

“We were looking for a status update on the fish kill that’s been ongoing for the past two weeks now. We hadn’t seen any reports since the weekend, so we expected the rain had cooled things off a bit,” Sam said.

What they found was dead and dying juvenile menhaden at Fairfield Harbor and oddly colored water in areas of Northwest Creek.

Water-Quality Specialist Taylor Register pilots the Neuse Riverkeeper boat.

“Since most of our recent fish kill reports have been from the Northwest Creek Marina area, we wanted to get a better look at the issue and take some water quality readings with our lab equipment. When we started to see the edge of the kill, we also noticed the water change to a strange cloudy green color, much different to what we saw throughout the rest of the Neuse,” Taylor said.

Their readings found extremely high dissolved oxygen and pH levels at the surface, and very low dissolved oxygen levels on the bottom — indicative of an algal bloom. Algal blooms occur when waterways are warm and loaded with excess nutrients.

“We are hoping that the upcoming cooler weather will help keep this issue at bay, but in the meantime, we are sending our findings to (North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality) for further investigation,” Taylor said.

On the Pamlico River, only one fish kill has been reported so far this summer: at Core Point on the south side of the Pamlico between Blounts Creek and Durham Creek.

Discolored what (as seen here in Northwest Creek, a tributary of the Neuse River) is indicative of an algal bloom.
Volunteer Coordinator Emily Fritz looks out for dead fish on the Neuse River.

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