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Fish Die-Off In Long Island Sound Prompts Investigation

Menhaden fish
Patrick Skahill
Menhaden fish

Reports of an unusual amount of dead Menhaden fish in Long Island Sound have prompted an investigation by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Bill Lucey is the Soundkeeper for the environmental group, Save the Sound. Lucey said die offs are common in the summer, when toxic algae starves fish of oxygen as it feeds on pollution.

“So we had a lot of those kills all along the coast, especially up around the Connecticut River this year, but these late winter kills are something different, I think,” Lucey said.

Lucey said recent temperature drops may have affected the fish. He said most fish went south to spawn in September, but the warmer autumn weather kept more Menhaden around than usual.

“I think that it’s mostly a natural die off. There are some concerns there may be a parasite or a virus and New York DEC has been looking into that, so hopefully we’ll have some information if that was the case. But there’s still a lot of Menhaden swimming around in Black Rock Harbor,” Lucey said.

Lucey said the population of Menhaden fish in the sound boomed this year.

Cassandra Basler, a former senior editor at WSHU, came to the station by way of Columbia Journalism School in New York City. When she's not reporting on wealth and poverty, she's writing about food and family.