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Lower Neuse River seeing distressed fish

Raleigh, NC

State officials are investigating a fish kill in the lower portion of the Neuse River near Havelock in the areas of Flanners Beach and Carolina Pines. 

Staff with the N.C. Division of Water Resources observed numerous dead or dying menhaden with severe lesions between three and five inches long. The fish have been seen during the past several days in the Neuse River from Flanners Beach to Carolina Pines. Dead fish may continue to surface in the area over the coming days and holiday weekend.

Division staff and other scientists are currently working to analyze the fish to figure out the cause. However, water quality parameters, such as dissolved oxygen, do not appear to be the leading cause of the distressed fish conditions at this time. The investigation is ongoing.

State officials are advising the public to avoid contact with water in areas where distressed fish are observed. Conditions will continue to be monitored and updates will be provided as information becomes available.

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 it 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, skin rash) that might be caused by exposure to these waters.

Please follow these common-sense precautions from the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services:

  • 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.

North Carolina residents can use the DEQ fish kill app to report fish kills to DEQ staff for investigation. A map of all fish kills occurring in 2019 is on the Division of Water Resources’ website.

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