KEANSBURG, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Hundreds of thousands of dead fish washed into a marina in Keansburg, New Jersey, following a massive fish kill in a nearby creek.
According to CBS2 chopper reporter Joe Biermann, the 3 to 4-inch dead fish completely surrounded many boats.
"We're talking hundreds of thousands of fish, if not millions of fish," said Bob Considine of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
As CBS2's Tracee Carrasco reported, it was unclear from far away just what was covering the surface of the water, and what was surrounding Art Lynch's boat at Lentze Marina in Keansburg.
"It looked like ice when we first pulled up," Lynch said. "We didn't know what it was."
But close up, it was clear to the eyes and especially to the nose.
The DEP said the type of fish that washed into the marina over the past couple of days is known as a peanut bunker. They were most likely chased into the marina off of Laurel Avenue by either blue fish or skates in Raritan Bay.
The peanut bunker fish all died due to low oxygen levels in the marina.
"Basically, there wasn't enough oxygen in the water to sustain them," Considine told WCBS 880's Mike Smeltz.
The peanut bunker fish also turned up in Way-Cake Creek and along Keansburg Beach.
Boat engines were encased, and people were revolted by the pungent smell.
"It's bad, it's enough to gag you," one resident told CBS2's Carrasco. "It smells like a sewer plant backed up and let out in the water."
Frank Dean manages a couple of marinas in Keansburg. He said the combination of a million dead fish and mid-August temperatures has made for a nasty, stinky brew.
"You know if you leave fish in the garbage can for a couple of days and it's hot out, it's going to smell," he said. "Well that's the smell."
Keansburg Mayor George Hoff said they are taking care of the fish that washed up on the beach.
"Right behind us in the creek we really can't do much about it because it would be a massive clean-up effort, but on our beach where they washed up, our Department of Public Works is taking care of it," Hoff said. "They're cleaning it up with our beach rake and dumping it into dumpsters and then hauling it off to Monmouth County reclamation Center."
The DEP said there was a smaller fish die-off last week and one last year, but residents said they have never seen anything like the one on Tuesday. The smell is expected to last another day or two, and Hoff hopes it will be gone by the end of the week – but for residents, its dissipation cannot come soon enough.
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