EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA - Millions of fish have died in a recent fish kill in the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico river basins. State officials said the dead fish are mostly Menhaden, small fish between three and five inches long.
According to officials at the North Carolina Environmental and Natural Resources, extreme natural changes are to blame.
They believe the fish kill is a result of algal blooms from slime mold. Strong sunlight sparks the algal bloom's growth, and they cause the oxygen levels in the water to change.
The dead Menhaden have been spotted this week in the Neuse, from Union Point in New Bern to the mouth of Slocum Creek, as well in Washington, Chocowinity and Blounts Creek areas of the Tar and Pamlico rivers.
Rick Dove is the director of the Coastal Carolina River Watch in New Bern.
"These Menhaden are starting to die in the river, the last few days we've started to see them dying in large amounts," he said.
Dove is worried the fish kill is caused by pollution, due to the sores on the fishes' bodies.
"Mostly we see the Menhaden dying like in this the early spring, and then we see it in huge number in their migrations during September and October," Dove said.
State officials said a similar event happened almost one year ago in these same waters.
"When they die in this river their bodies decomposes, and all the nutrients go back into the water," Dove said.
He said the last major fish kill in the Neuse River was in 2009 when 100 million fish were killed.
"This fish kill is relatively small compared to other fish kills," Dove said.
State officials said there is no harm to people who swim in the water. The dead fish are now being analyzed by the state.