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Dead and dying fish are being spotted by the hundreds along the Hudson


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Riverkeeper assists as DEC collects fish for necropsies, hoping to determine the cause

dead and dying fish

Over the last two weeks, Riverkeeper has received numerous reports of dead and dying fish spotted throughout a 60-mile area from New York Harbor north along the Hudson to Mystery Point in Garrison, and as far away as the North Fork of Long Island.

We have relayed information to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Bureau of Fisheries and assisted efforts to analyze the fish and determine the cause of mortality.

The fish appeared to be from a single species – Atlantic menhaden, known locally as bunker.

dead fish


More were seen scattered along the shorelines at Red Hook, Brooklyn; Englewood Cliffs, Manhattan’s West Side, Piermont Pier, Tarrytown, Ossining and Cortlandt. They were seen by the hundreds at Croton-on-Hudson over the weekend.

Observers took videos of fish gasping for air while swimming in circles and dying in the waters off the Upper West Side of Manhattan and Horan’s Landing in Sleepy Hollow. Dead fish were also reported earlier this month along the Newark Bay shoreline in Bayonne.

During the past weekend Riverkeeper communicated with DEC Fisheries, which sent a boat Monday morning to collect fish that were still alive, though about to die. Those were needed to perform necropsies to try to determine the

cause of death. (Immediately after death, rapid decay can hide the cause of death.)

DEC personnel collected about a dozen fish, which were relayed by Riverkeeper’s George Jackman and John Lipscomb to a laboratory at SUNY Stony Brook.

Large numbers of dead menhaden were spotted earlier this year, in the early summer, apparently due to prolonged periods of hot, sunny days that led to low levels of dissolved oxygen that the fish need to survive.

dying fish in Secaucus

Secaucus, N.J.

During this colder season, we anticipate a different cause of mortality, and will await results of the necropsies to learn more.

We appreciate all the emails and calls to our hotline reporting this issue. Together we are the eyes for the River.

For information on how to send us a report, visit this page.

Update, December 24

Dead fish are still being spotted and reported, as the cause of mortality remains undetermined.

“In these reports to us is voiced this deep concern for the river. These fish are the embodiment of the river to these people, and when they see them dying, it’s heartbreaking. And for people to emotionally appreciate the struggles of these fish is a giant leap in the right direction.

“The river is mute: it can’t call out, it can’t say ‘help.’ So when these people connect emotionally like that, that’s exactly what the river needs.”

– Riverkeeper’s John Lipscomb in Gothamist: What The Heck Is Going On With All The Dead Fish In The Waters Around NYC?


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