KEANSBURG — If the Monmouth County landfill can handle a whale, what's a few thousand fish?

Mayor George Hoff said that front end loaders are scooping up thousands of peanut bunker fish that washed up on the shores of the Waackaack Creekand. They're taking them to the facility in Tinton Falls.

According to Monmouth County spokeswoman Laura Kirkpatrick, the landfill is prepared.

"A number of years ago we had a huge whale wash up in the Shark River and they put him in the landfill. It's something we do as it happens but, fortunately, it doesn't happen very often," Kirkpatrick said.

As for the fish coming in from Keansburg, Kirkpatrick said "we'll dig a hole and the fish will be dumped in the hole and then they'll cover it over quickly to reduce the amount of the smell. Peanut bunker are very smelly."

The peanut bunker washed up as a result of a reduced oxygen level in the water, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

"Warmer water has a lower oxygen saturation. What that really means is that warm water holds less oxygen. Second, most animals and bacteria in the ocean are ‘cold blooded’ and their metabolic activity is related to temperature. When it is warmer, their basic metabolic rate goes up and they need more oxygen,” explained Paul Bologna, director of Montclair State University’s Marine Biology and Coastal Sciences Program.

Huff said the beach removal is almost complete but the tide will have to take care of the fish along the creek because of the cost.

"To get in there and get them out would cost thousands of dollars and neither us nor Hazlet, where the majority of them are, have that kind of money in our budgets."

"There's no health or safety risk" on the beach where the fish were for anyone wanting to swim Huff said.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com