FLANNERS BEACH, CRAVEN COUNTY -

A fish kill at Flanners Beach made for a smelly surprise this Labor Day Weekend. More hot weather on the way could lead to additional kills in the area.

The fish kill at Flanners Beach appears to be of natural causes. Pesticide contamination appears unlikely. According to scientists at University of North Carolina Institute of Marine Sciences, heavy rain can often lead to fish kills. However, heavy rain has not been reported at Flanners Beach for two weeks.

The kill was likely caused by oxygen depletion. Sunny, hot weather can heat water rapidly. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), this rapid warmth can cause a drop in the dissolved oxygen in the water.

The USGS says summer can be a hard time for fish to get oxygen, and prolonged periods of hot weather can lead to a kill. Our summer was slightly cooler than average, but recent hot weather is likely the cause of the kill.

The week ahead calls for more hot and sunny weather, which could lead to more kills in stagnant bodies of water like calm streams, rivers and ponds.

The USGS also says in the summer there is a higher count of other organisms like bacteria which also use up oxygen. This can doubly deplete the amount of oxygen in the water making it hard for the fish to survive.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports once a natural oxygen depletion kill starts, there is little to be done to stop it. The Commission also says a fish kill rarely results in total loss of the population. Remaining fish can often adequately reproduce to restore the population.