Update: large fish kill on the Neuse

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

Posted on August 31st, 2023

A beach along the Neuse River is covered in juvenile menhaden.

Numerous reports of fish kills on the lower Neuse over the past week are being attributed to abnormally hot water temperatures and nutrient pollution.

The majority of callers reported fish kills on the Neuse near New Bern and Bridgeton.

North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality staff confirmed that the river was experiencing hypoxia (low to no oxygen levels) and  algal blooms, which can dramatically decrease the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water necessary for aquatic life.

“Fish kills are an important warning sign that alert us to water-quality concerns below the surface,” said Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop. “The significant fish kill that has been seen across the lower Neuse this and last is a symptom of nutrient pollution and climate change that reduce oxygen content in the water and make it harder for sensitive fish species to breathe. We need to address nutrient pollution and protect our climate-resilient wetlands and creek-side buffers if we want to see an end to devastating fish kills.”

Buffers (vegetation and trees on banks) and wetlands both absorb excess nutrients, depriving algae from a main food source.

Sound Rivers advises the public to avoid swimming/recreating in water where a fish kill is evident.

“At this time, we are not aware of any harmful algal blooms associated with this fish kill, but we will continue to provide updates as we have them,” Sam said.

If you see a fish kill, please report it to us through our website, shoot us an email or tag us on social media with the location of the fish kill, and we’ll make sure the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality gets that information. You can also report and track fish kills on the NCDEQ website.

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