OCEAN CITY, Md. (WJZ) — Ocean City is on alert as dead fish are washing ashore by the dozens.
Mary Bubala reports beachgoers are being warned to stay away. The fish have their heads and tails chopped off and many are decomposing.
The dead fish started washing ashore on Delaware’s beaches this weekend.
Commercial fishing companies harvest the small fish called “menhaden” in vast numbers and they are often processed on board ships.
Why they’re ending up headless and tailless back in the water and now on shore remains a mystery.
Thousands of these small, partially processed fish can now be seen near Ocean City.
“They are floating right on the surface of the water. They are really bright white in color and so it just looks like they took a paint brush and made a white stripe down the ocean where they are. There are pods of them where they have seemed to accumulate a thousand of them together,” said Captain Butch Arbin, Ocean City Beach Patrol.
Crews are cleaning up the dead, smelly fish as quickly as they can and beach-goers are being warned not to touch the fish.
“It’s kind of gross because when the kids went down to the edge of the water they said it was smelly from the fish. It was really quick from the time we got here until the guys cleaned it up. It was 15 – 20 minutes,” said Jamie Hunter, vacationer.
Still beachgoers say the smell is overwhelming and the sight of the decomposing fish is startling.
Delaware’s division of Fish and Wildlife is investigating along with Maryland’s Department of the Environment.
Both say it’s very likely the headless, tailless fish were dumped or spilled from a commercial vessel.