NC Division of Environmental Quality investigating Neuse River fish kill

CRAVEN COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – State environmental officials are weighing in on a massive fish kill in the Neuse River WITN first told you about on Wednesday.

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality says it’s monitoring the fish kill that spans from Union Point Park in New Bern and Bridgeton downstream to Riverdale.

WITN shared details on the fish kill on Wednesday and it’s impact to the Fairfield Harbour community.

DEQ said that a combination of environmental factors, including intense heat, inputs due to Tropical Storm Idalia, and otherwise low amounts of precipitation, all lead to stratification of waters with very low dissolved oxygen in the lower depths.

This low dissolved oxygen situation is known as hypoxia, a condition caused by a lack of oxygen below normal conditions.

“It commonly occurs during the summertime as the waters warm up and the biological metabolism of river water constituents consume oxygen. These conditions, in addition to the effects of continuous algal blooms, can combine to exacerbate low DO levels, causing hypoxia. These environmental stressors can often result in fish kills,” DEQ said in a press release.

We’re told that algal investigation so far has not shown cyanobacteria or algal toxins, and DWR staff will continue evaluating algae in these areas.

According to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, if you see a fish kill (the sudden death of large numbers of fish, usually in a restricted area) in which more than a few fish or shellfish are dead, dying, acting erratically or have sores, follow these common-sense precautions:

  • Stay away from these waters while those conditions exist. Don’t go into the water.
  • Do not eat, use or collect any fish, crabs, other animals or items from these waters.
  • Do not let pets swim in or eat fish from these waters.

If you come in contact with the water where fish or shellfish are dead, dying, appear sick, or have sores:

  • Remove wet clothing and keep separate from other items until it has been washed.
  • Wash any body part (except the eyes) that comes into contact with the waters, using soap and clean water. Rinse eyes with lots of clear, clean water.
  • Use waterproof gloves when handling pets and items that have come into contact with the waters.
  • See your doctor or health provider if you experience any symptoms (e.g., confusion, vomiting, diarrhea) that might be caused by exposure to these waters.