Photos: Dead Fish Washing Up On Shorelines

September 18, 2017 | 10 Comments

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources confirmed they have received a number of reports of dead fish washing up on shorelines around the island, and said “the current die-off event is affecting a large number of fishes from a wide range of species” and it is “too early to speculate about possible causes.”

After a reader contacted us saying there were dozens of dead fish on a beach in the east end by Fort St Catherine, Bernews visited the area this weekend, and found the beach strewn with dead fish, resulting in an odor emanating on the beach.

Slideshow showing dead fish on the beach this weekend


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A spokesperson told Bernews, “The Department of Environment and Natural Resources [DENR] has received a number of reports of dead fishes washing up on shorelines around the island.

“We would like to thank those members of the public who have taken the time to contact us. We record all reports of this nature, regardless of how minor they may appear, as it helps us to track the timing and distribution of any large scale die-off events, which in turn can help us determine the cause.”

“It is not unusual to see a few dead fishes in inshore areas at this time of year, when the seawater is at its warmest. Increasing temperatures reduce oxygen levels in the water, which affects some species of fish.

“Further, warmer temperatures promote the growth and reproduction of naturally occurring bacteria, viruses and other parasites that can affect fish health. These fish pathogens are normally present at low levels, and are generally not pathogenic to humans.”

“The current die-off event is affecting a large number of fishes from a wide range of species. The last time there was a fish die-off on this scale was during September of 2009.

“At that time, the bacterium Vibrio harveyi and a gill parasite, Brooklynella, were found to be the cause. Neither of these organisms is pathogenic to humans. However, at this stage, it is too early to speculate about possible causes behind the current die-off.

“DENR is seeking to acquire specimens of affected fish, particularly any fish that are still alive but have visible signs of ill health. Key signs include sores or lesions on the skin, frayed fins or unusual behavior.

“Suspect behaviours include swimming slowly, upside down or near the surface, rapid movement of the gill covers, or appearing to gasp at the surface of the water.

“If a fish can be easily captured with a net or a bucket, then that is usually an indication of ill health. Anyone who is able to provide such a sample should call the Marine Resources Section on 2935600.

“In the meantime, the buildup of dead fishes on the shoreline constitutes a public health nuisance because of the odor and the associated insects.

“Dead fish on private shorelines should be collected carefully using rubber gloves, placed in a sturdy plastic bag and taken directly to the incinerator at Tynes Bay.

“It should go without saying that under no circumstances should these fish be eaten, either by people or other animals, regardless of how fresh they might look.

“Ill or dying fish should be placed in a clean plastic container, such as a plastic bag, with salt water from the area so the fish is immersed in water. It is important the fish stay wet.

“The container can then be placed on ice and then transported as quickly as possible to DENR. Fish that are already dead are much harder to diagnose owing to the postmortem changes that rapidly occur, clouding any potential diagnosis.”

“Additional information on this situation will be provided as it becomes available.”

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Comments (10)

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  1. Oh,I see now says:

    Definite cause for environmental concern let’s hope we can quickly identify with this problem.

  2. SNS says:

    I was thinking this was due to the slew of hurricanes, particularly Irma, that are tearing through the Atlantic. Is that not a possibility?

    I guess I could google it, but can someone educate me?

  3. Freshair Fiend says:

    Grape Bay was covered in dead fish this weekend.

    • sage says:

      There was a hellacious smell on the stretch before Gombeys at Southside this weekend like dead fish.

  4. bee says:

    if our oceans are dying, we’re quickly next

  5. Jose says:

    Radiation from the Fukushima disaster

  6. Pay Attention says:

    They all suddenly died at once, in the same period of time, we cannot overlook that logical fact, and this helps us to narrow it down…if it was on one side of the island that would suggest something in one location but if it was on all sides of the island and everwhere in general then this would be a much greater problem. These are reef fish and not deep fish, so either it is poisoning of the water in one location from a spill or dumping by someone, or if island-spread then it could be something more serious, such as methane gas erupting from our sea-mount….God forbid. I suggest that all scientists on the island get off their chairs and study this ASAP because we cannot overlook signs which could be foretelling of a major disaster.

  7. Whatsgoingon says:

    Something must be wrong because I would think the birds would be going crazy to eat the fish

  8. X says:

    Maybe it’s due to the radiation on the eastern end of the island.

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