One of the Long Island canals has been ‘invaded’ Monday morning by thousands of bunker fish which had been trapped there a night before. According to Martin West, a local resident, the water was so covered with dead fish that anyone could have managed to walk across it.
The officials from NY Department of Environmental Conservation stated that the canal locks had been closed at about 3 a.m., trapping thousands of bunker fish, a small saltwater species.
The officials believe that the bunker fish were hunted by bluefish and they ended up in the canal.
Chris Paparo, a researcher from the Stony Brook University Marine Sciences Center, said ‘They chased them in here, but unfortunately the locks are closed, so it’s a dead end, they can’t get out.”
The problem is that there were so many fish in there, that they quickly remained with no oxygen, so they eventually suffocated.
When the canal locks were reopened the next morning, thousands of bunker fish emerged on the surface, but most of them were already dead. This situation is very disturbing for residents, especially for those who live nearby the canal because they have to endure the awful stench.
Based on the reports, some fishers collected as many fish as they could to sell them to lobstermen in Maine as the Atlantic bunker fish can be used as bait. It is not the first time a fish kill occurs in the Shinnecock Canal, according to the city’s officials.
However, previous incidents were caused by algal blooms and other environmental issues. Biologists believe that Monday’s accidental trap wasn’t related to any contamination.
As previously mentioned, fish kills are usually caused by algal blooms which occur during the summer months, when the warm waters become the ideal environment for the invasive blue-green algae.
This parasite spreads quickly while also consuming the oxygen in the water, thus creating dead zones where fish and other marine creatures cannot survive. Nevertheless, the toxic blue-green algae cannot survive in freezing temperatures, so the officials don’t have to worry about the threat of an algal bloom until next summer.
Biologist will conduct an extensive investigation to establish what caused thousands of bunker fish to gather in the Long Island canal.
Image Source:Static Flickr