GUILFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — For folks who come to the West River it was a shocking scene. Dead fish on both banks.
There is still menhaden or bunker fish in the river but last week there were a whole lot more.
Thousands and thousands were seen in New Haven’s Long Wharf and they were also seen on the West River in Guilford. That’s where Maria Paine noticed them last week.
“The river at high tide was… looked like to was boiling water there were so many fish,” says the Guilford resident.
Paine was among many to send in pictures of what she saw once the tide receded through News8’s report it feature.
“You know it just looked like litter for a second,” says Paine. “I was like why is there all this white debris all over the place. That’s what caught my eye.”
But it wasn’t litter. Hundreds of fish were dead.
“It was horrible,” says Paine. “Yeah everywhere.”
“It was shocking it was disturbing,” says Joanne Baymiller who also lives in town.
It was also confusing for Baymiller who didn’t understand why this was happening. Her first thought was some type of pollution.
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says it’s something a lot less sinister. It was a lack of enough oxygen.
“Menhaden are notorious for having large fish kills,” explains the DEEP’s Dave Simpson. “They’ll get trapped into shallow water very often Blue Fish pressing them in to shallow water and their numbers are so great that they’ll suffocate.”
Some residents have never seen anything like this before.
“New and disturbing to me,” says Baymiller. “I wish I could do something.”
But the DEEP says she can’t do anything to prevent this. “Not much,” says Simpson. “Nature runs its course.”
Last month there was a similar fish kill on Long Island in the town of Centerport and there have been others in Connecticut. More recently Old Lyme and also in Gales Ferry on the Thames River.