Thousands of dead fish washed ashore Pawleys Island, South Carolina this week, sparking questions as to why it happened. The fish were mostly menhaden, and they were located at the south end of Pawleys Island, local police confirmed. Thousands of menhaden also died earlier this month in a creek near Masonboro Island, outside Wilmington, NC.
"There was a new moon this past Friday, which resulted in unusually high and low tides. It’s likely a school of menhaden became confined in a shallow area or behind a shoal of some type where they may have depleted the oxygen in the water," said Mel Bell, of the SCDNR Director of the Marine Division's Office of Fisheries Management. "This, possibly combined with a sudden temperature change in the shallower water, resulted in stress to the fish and mass mortality."
Fish kills can occur for a host of reasons, including oxygen-deficient waters, drastic temperature changes, pollution, algal blooms, and other factors. In general, fish kills occur most-often when fish can't escape from the affected area.
"The dead fish eventually washed onto about a mile long area of beachfront on the next high tide," said Bell. "Analyses of water samples taken from the area have shown no signs of an algal bloom or the presence of any species that might have proven toxic to the fish. The exact location of the event remains unknown."