Lack of oxygen sends waves of dead fish ashore in Pawleys Island

Courtesy viewer Lisa Mahan
Courtesy viewer Lisa Mahan

PAWLEYS ISLAND, SC (WMBF) When you go to the beach you don't expect to find hundreds of dead fish covering the shore.

"One time I was here I saw a bunch of jellyfish," Said resident Bill Vogel.  "They were all on the shore but nothing like this, it's really weird."

Pawleys Island isn't the first place this week to see the dead Menhaden fish on their shores. DeBordieu Beach had the same issue the day before, according to Chief Michael Fanning of the Pawleys Island Police Department.

Events like this happen from time to time, last year an influx of Star Fish were found on the same beaches, Fanning said.

Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) visited the area Tuesday and took water samples. Wednesday DNR officials gave an explanation as to what is killing the fish.

"It's an occurrence called hypoxia," Said Sergeant Steve Pop.  "That is dissolved oxygen levels in the water that drop to a level that is not sustainable for the fish."

It is a natural event and nothing man-made that is killing the fish, added Pop.

"We've got some deep holes off of north inlet that holds these fish," Said Pop.  "This time of year the fish congregate in these holes which is depleting the oxygen source."

Pop said the DNR is hopeful some favorable winds combined with high tides tonight and tomorrow will help wash the fish away from the shore.

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