Why Are So Many Fish Dying in the Hudson River This Month?
Dead fish are being discovered along the Hudson River and residents are looking for answers.
Riverkeeper says it's received concerned calls from people reporting dead fish sightings up and down the Hudson River. The fish, mainly Atlantic menhaden, have been seen washed up on the shore with no apparent signs of injury.
Sadly, the dead fish are a result of local pollution and weather.
The recent warm temperatures coupled with the lack of rain have reduced the amount of dissolved oxygen in the river that fish need to breathe. In a healthy river, oxygen levels wouldn't drop so quickly, but pollution in the Hudson has made the situation much worse.
The Hudson River is known to be one of the most "nutrient-rich" estuaries on the planet. While this may seem like a good thing, it's not. Pollution and sewage are responsible for creating these nutrients that cause algae and phytoplankton to bloom. When the sun warms the water, oxygen becomes scarce. Fish are then forced to compete with algae and other organisms for the same amount of limited oxygen. This is what's causing the death of so many Atlantic menhaden, as well as other species of fish.
Making things even worse, as these fish die there are fewer of them left to eat the algae, causing the organisms to grow even larger and consume more oxygen. As the weather cools in September it's expected that oxygen levels will return to a healthy level, but without addressing the pollution problem in the river, fish will continue to die as the weather remains warm and rain is scarce.
Riverkeeper has a list of actions that can be taken now to help balance the Hudson River's delicate ecosystem before the situation eventually spirals out of control. The organization fears that the problem will only get worse as the earth's temperature continues to rise. Global warming is expected to make these temporary fish kills even more widespread. Higher baseline temperatures mean that stretches of hot weather like we're experiencing now will simply make the river unable to sustain certain types of aquatic life.
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