LOWER TOWNSHIP - Several hundred bunker fish have washed up along the beach in front of the Sunset Grill.

The state is monitoring the situation and believes the fish, which number several hundred, are from a fishing vessel.

"We continued to have Division of Fish and Wildlife, Conservation Officers on the scene," state Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Bob Considine said in an email. "We will also have our typical ocean monitoring flight take place over Cape May this morning. At this time, we believe the dead fish washing up on shore is a result of a net break from a bunker vessel offshore."

Early-morning beach-goers reported hundreds of dead fish littering the beach.

Susan Wheeler came to the beach just after 6:30 a.m. to help flip over horseshoe crabs when she saw not only the hundreds of dead fish, but dozens of gulls circling the air.

"They're all along the shore and in the surf," she said. "Our concern is it might be something environmental because the birds won't eat them."

Jimmy Stewart came down a bit earlier when he discovered the scene.

"They're maybe 10-12 inches," he said.

Bunker fish are typically used in fish meal or as bait fish for striped bass. They are not typically eaten by people.

Last month thousands of bunker washed up in Belmar. Officials blamed the die-off on low oxygen levels in Shark River.

Steve Hughes

 

Local news editor at the Press of Atlantic City. SUNY Geneseo and Syracuse University grad. New Jersey transplant.