GEORGETOWN COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – As many as a million dead fish are floating in the waters of North Inlet, near Georgetown, a South Carolina Department of Natural Resources official said. He believes the fish were killed due to low oxygen in the water.
On Thursday, photos showing thousands of dead red drum fish and menhaden were posted to Facebook by the Seven Seas Seafood Market.
The early indications from the samples taken so far indicate that the fish kill is the result of low dissolved oxygen in the water, which has to do with an environmental condition called hypoxia, according to Phil Maier with the SCDNR.
Maier said he believes the massive fish kill happened sometime overnight, in the early morning heading into Thursday, due to a low tide in the estuary. It appears the fish got caught in a pocket of water when the tide was changing.
The fish will not pose a threat to wildlife as they decompose, Maier believes, because they will be spread out.
WMBF News went out on the water with DNR Regional Biologist Dean Cain as he surveyed the site.
"The uniqueness of this is it's really pretty large and there were hundreds of thousands of menhaden killed in a very short amount of time," added Cain. "Naturally its ok but something happened to reduce that oxygen just below the threshold or where the menhaden couldn't tolerate it they just simply suffocated."
Back in January 2013, thousands of dead fish washed ashore in Pawleys Island. SCDNR also blamed hypoxia for that fish kill.