For the second time in two weeks, a die-off of bunker—a type of baitfish—has occurred in the Peconic River.
Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter told Newsday, “We’re at a loss to try to get these fish out. It’s hugely problematic.”
According to Peconic Baykeeper, a nonprofit marine watchdog and advocacy organization, the two fish kills have resulted in tens of thousands of bunker dying.
It is not uncommon for bluefish to chase bunker into shallow waters, where the volume of fish causes dissolved oxygen the water to become depleted. However, according to Peconic Baykeeper, bluefish are not the only reason for the bunker essentially suffocating to death. “Warmer waters and elevated nitrogen levels can help algae to grow, which can also reduce oxygen levels in the water,” the organization stated.
Nitrogen gets into the Peconic River a number of ways, including stormwater runoff and septic systems.