Fish Kill on Folly Beach

Folly Beach residents were greeted yesterday by the sight of dead fish along the shoreline; thousands of menhaden washed ashore for reasons still unknown.

It was initially speculated that the cause of the fish kill (an often times natural occurrence) was due to the cold water temperatures we’ve been experiencing lately.  However, after speaking with officials from the City of Folly Beach, tests have been inconclusive to determine the exact cause of the fish kill.

Charleston Waterkeeper supporter, Michael Lennon, managed to capture the above video while visiting the beach yesterday (he also shared with us some photographs he took while scoping out the scene – see below).  Here’s what he had to say about what he saw…

I heard early Thursday that dead fish washed up on Folly Beach; disturbed and curious during my lunch break from work, I ran down to Folly with my camera to see for myself.  What I saw I never expected… Thousands of dead fish covered the beach in each direction.  The sight was strange and morbid.  The scariest part is not knowing what happened and what this means for our environment?

Folly Beach officials shared the following information:

The fish are being raked and put in trucks to be taken to the landfill.  OCRM would not permit the burying of the fish or any other disposal method except removing and taking them to the landfill.

In addition to Folly Beach, orders of fish were reported to be dead throughout the Stono River.  We have also talked with the Choptank Riverkeeper in Maryland where a massive fish kill claimed the lives of over two million fish throughout Chesapeake Bay.  It is suspected that cold water temperatures are to blame for that incident.  In addition, Gordon Rogers, the Flint Riverkeeper in Georgia, noted in a recent email to us the following:

There have been kills of speckled trout (Cynoscion nebulosus), red drum (Scianops ocellatus), star drum, white shrimp (Penaeus setiferus), and a few other critters, due to cold [water temperatures], in coastal GA over the last 3 weeks. There are also a LOT of ducks here, for the same reason.

The Post and Courier published an article about the incident on Folly Beach here.  We will continue to update our site as we continue to discover new information.

(Photos below by Michael Lennon)

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