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Hundreds of dead fish removed from East Rockaway basin

Hempstead Town employees clean up dead fish in

Hempstead Town employees clean up dead fish in an East Rockaway canal on Aug. 22. Credit: Johnny Milano

Hempstead Town workers Wednesday removed hundreds of dead fish from Talfor Boat Basin in East Rockaway, town Councilman Anthony D’Esposito said Thursday.

The carcasses appeared in the waterway Tuesday and Wednesday, D’Esposito said. Heavy rains diluting the saltwater with lower-oxygen fresh water, and a sudden influx of bunker fish, likely caused the fish to suffocate, he said.

Oxygen depletion is a common cause of so-called "fish kills," according to the United States Geological Survey.

The sight of the dead carp and peanut bunker floating on the water's surface and the accompanying odor risked turning away would-be customers at neighboring bars and restaurants, D’Esposito said.

“With the heat, the last thing we want is the fish to sit on the top of the water,” said the councilman, whose district encompasses the Village of East Rockaway and who spearheaded the cleanup effort.

East Rockaway Village Mayor Bruno F. Romano said the last fish kill at the site he could recall was around 13 years ago.

"I was very surprised that it happened," he said of this week's incident. "It was sad to see."

Workers from the town’s Department of Conservation and Waterways transferred the dead fish to the town's Department of Sanitation, which disposed of them Thursday at the Covanta waste facility in Westbury, where they will be incinerated, D’Esposito said.

The councilman said the water is otherwise in good condition. The town continued to monitor the site Thursday, he said.

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