Northern Monmouth County isn't quite done with dead fish and Ocean County now has some too.

More peanut bunker fish washed up along the shore, but this time slightly to the south in Keyport. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection reports another fish kill developed in Great Bay along Osborn Island early Saturday as well.

Spokesman Bob Considine said in an email, "There are a large quantity of dead peanut bunker off several lagoons due to low concentrations of dissolved oxygen in the water and an abundance of fish, likely brought on due to the large amount of fish being chased by other predators." He said that residents also reported the water as being "unusually still with little current" but samples collected by DEP Conservation Officers have not shown any obviously diseased fish. "We are hopeful that the winds and tides will bring these fish back into the water in the very near future. Ocean County Health Department is engaged in the process as well," Considine said.

Keansburg Mayor George Hoff, whose municipal workers got all thousands of fish cleaned up from the beach in his town earlier in the week, witnessed dead fish washing up along Wilkson Creek between the Garden State Parkway and Route 35 in Keyport on Friday.

"There is no collection of fish on the shore (in Keansburg), but there are a few hundred on the surface of the water," Considine said of the Keansburg fish kill.

Paul Bologna, director of Montclair State University’s Marine Biology and Coastal Sciences Program said this fish kill is happening for the exact same reason as last weekend's incident in Keansburg.

"Generally these occur at night. These big schools (of fish) get into these areas. As soon as the oxygen gets low they literally start to panic and hyperventolate and use their oxygen up even faster. These schools are so big and so dense they just breath the oxygen out of the water and then they all start dying," explained Bologna.

It's not an unusual occurence for the Jersey Shore in the summer, said Bologna.

In their panic to get away, the fish may wind up in a marina or lagoon where there's not anything natural like a marsh that naturally produces a lot of oxygen, leading to all the fish dying in the same area, according to Bologna.

Considine added that an increased population of Atlantic Menhadenis also contributing to the fish kill. "Our Bureau of Marine Fisheries estimates that the number of this bait fish has not been this high in a decade off the Atlantic coast," Considine said.

News 12 New Jersey reported the fish washing up in a marine basin are creating a bad smell as well.

Thousands of the peanut bunker, is also known as the Atlantic Menhaden, washed up along the Waackaack Creek in Keansburg last weekend with the last of them being removed on Thursday via dumpster according to Hoff.They were taken to the Monmouth County landfill in Tinton Falls and dumped down a specially dug hole which was quickly capped to minimize the smell.

Peanut is one of the most popular fish used as bait by New Jersey fisherman and are found from Nova Scotia to Florida. In the winter they migrate south the the North Carolina capes according to the DEP.

Keansburg, so far, is still fish free with this latest round.  "We were up at our beach concert (Friday night) and everything was clear," Hoff said.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at


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