Why Are Dead Fish Floating in the Hudson River? Here’s What We Know

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Hordes of floating dead fish have been spotted along the Hudson River over the last few days along the New Jersey and New York shorelines, leaving many local residents to ponder the cause. From sewage leakage to shockwaves from the recent Macy’s fireworks to yearly spawning, there has been wide speculation. So should residents be concerned?  According to environmentalists responsible for investigating such matters along the Hudson, the answer appears to be no. Here’s what we know so far.

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Why So Many Dead Fish?

“The City began receiving inquiries [Thursday morning] relating to fish in the Hudson River. The City then immediately reached out to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the responsible agency for this type of matter, to investigate,” Vijay Chaudhuri, Director of Communications for the City, told Hoboken Girl via email.

Hoboken Girl reached out to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection {DEP} for an official comment but did not receive a reply by publication. However, it has been suggested that the DEP has not seen or had reports of any contamination.

According to RiverKeeper, an environmental group that works to study and protect the Hudson River and NY Watershed, who have also been fielding inquiries about the fish kill, “The widespread deaths of Atlantic menhaden, and possibly other species, are most likely the result of prolonged heat and lack of rain, combined with other factors, which reduce levels of dissolved oxygen that the fish need to survive.”

New York State DEC Confirms ‘Natural Phenomenon’

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation{DEC} also investigated the incident, as similar reports were received along the Hudson in New York City. When asked for comment by Hoboken Girl the DEC issued a statement via email confirming, “The exact cause has not yet been determined but during the summer months as water temperatures warm, water is less able to hold dissolved oxygen than cool water. Low dissolved oxygen, or hypoxia, can often be fatal to these large schools while other fishes and marine organisms are stressed but will ultimately survive.”
So what causes hypoxia? The DEC stated that low dissolved oxygen can be caused by large schools of fish confined in bodies of water, excessive algal growth, and warm water temperatures. “This is a natural phenomenon, and fish kills of this type can be expected during the warm months of the year and generally have little impact on region-wide fish population numbers.”

Trouble in the Hudson?

It seems residents don’t have to be concerned about contaminated water, but, according to RiverKeeper, this is an indication that all is not well. The group says the fish kill is a signal of the River’s underlying health.

“We should consider this yet another warning that we need to restore the baseline health of the Hudson and New York Harbor in the face of climate change and ever-increasing global water temperatures. Fifty years from now, or 20, or even 10 years from now, sunny, hot months like this past June will have even greater consequences, because baseline water temperatures will be that much higher,” their website reads, noting the threat of climate change continues to loom large.

“The warm, sunny weather and low dissolved oxygen have tipped the river beyond its ability to support some aquatic life. Seeing this, we need to do what we can, now, to restore the river to balance.”

See More: Welcome to Little Island Park — Hudson River’s ‘Floating’ Green Space Set to Open in 2021

 

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Born and raised on the Jersey Shore, Alena visited Hoboken {her parents’ hometown} regularly as a little girl and has always had a soft spot for the Mile Square. With family roots in the town’s fire department, she has been a proud resident of our fair city since attending graduate school at The New School in NYC. Alena began her career as a beat reporter at a small newspaper, before finding her groove as a development professional in the non-profit field. She has a passion for helping others, a penchant for writing, and is excited to get back to her journalism roots. When she’s not raising funds or following up on a scoop, Alena is practicing yoga, listening avidly to true crime podcasts, reading a great book, gallivanting with friends, and missing Schitt’s Creek.


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