CHARLESTON, S.C., Jan. 6 (UPI) — Hundreds of thousands of dead fish washed ashore on the South Carolina coast Thursday morning, littering the sand along the tide line, wildlife officials said.
State wildlife biologists say early indications are that it’s another in a series of wildlife die-offs blamed on record-breaking cold conditions around the nation this winter, The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier reported.
The dead fish, a variety known as menhaden, appear to have been healthy otherwise, wildlife experts said.
Menhaden are mouse-sized bait fish that travel in large schools, and swim closer to the surface than other fish which makes them more susceptible to cold temperatures.
The die-off joins a growing a growing list of sea life trauma caused by unusually cold water temperatures that have wildlife officials alarmed for food and game fish such as shrimp, as well as sea trout and red drum.
“We certainly are nearing temperatures where we’re concerned about shrimp too,” Phil Maier of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources said.
The cold up and down the East Coast has already caused a massive fish kill in Maryland, and a number of stunned sea turtles are being treated locally at the South Carolina Aquarium’s turtle hospital.