As the weather gets warmer and the sun becomes brighter, we all look forward to getting out and about and enjoying our beautiful state.  Let's face it, there are no better beaches than the Jersey Shore and there's no better place for summer fun than here.  However, thousands of dead fish popping up put a damper on things.  Here's what you need to know.

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What's the name of the fish that are being spotted dead by the thousands in New Jersey?

These are called menhaden and otherwise are known as bunker fish.  They are important to the ecosystem.  Without them, there's no striper, bluefish, etc.

Where are dead menhaden being found around the Jersey Shore?

Tens of thousands have been spotted around the Navesink River, Shrewsbury River, and even Raritan Bay.  So, residents of Middletown, Red Bank, Fair Haven, Rumson, Oceanport, Sandy Hook, and many surrounding communities have likely witnessed the eye-sore.  Such a sad sight, these poor fish leave an awful, rotting smell.  I was on the Let's Talk Long Branch page and saw several interesting messages.  A lot of people are upset, for a variety of good reasons.

What's killing these bunker fish around Monmouth County?

The New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife says that "largescale die-offs have been reported since the fall in coastal areas from Rhode Island to New Jersey."  The cause appears to be bacteria.  It "closely resembles Vibrio anguillarum, a very common bacterium found in marine environments and one of numerous Vibrio species found in those environments."  The Department of Environmental protection warns that you should avoid touching these fish, not even to use for bait.  If you must, use gloves and other protective manners.

What's next for these dead fish?

To some extent, mother nature will slowly fix the problem but local municipalities and state organizations will need to assist.  Long Branch's Mayor, John Pallone, says his town is stepping up to meet the challenge of clean-up.  In a Facebook post today, he stated "the City of Long Branch has decided to move forward with an environmental contractor, who will address the most problematic areas of our waterways and banks, beginning Monday, May 10. The company will be collecting the fish using specialized boats and vacuum equipment and will access fish on the riverbanks from both the ground and the water. "

Oceanport's Mayor, Jay Coffee posted on Facebook yesterday stating "The Mayors of Long Branch, Middletown, Monmouth Beach, Aberdeen, Little Silver, Oceanport, Rumson and Sea Bright are meeting remotely today to figure out how, as a collective, we can (a) hire a vendor to remove dead fish from our shores, (b) obtain reimbursement from the state for any and all costs associated with the cleanup and, (c) do this in compliance with DEP mandates and guidance. We are working with our state and county representatives to organize and expedite this effort."  He later updated to add "In addition to involving Oceanport in an interlocal effort to remove the decaying fish from our shorelines, we are also going to explore a volunteer-based initiative whereby the Borough would rent a dumpster and residents would be permitted to bring a limited number of bags of fish to the dumpster for removal by the Borough to the county waste site."  Read the full statement here.

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