Menhaden latest mass deaths due to Lowcountry cold; snow forecast
FOLLY BEACH — Thousands of dead menhaden littered the sand here Thursday, stretching in either direction from the Folly Pier in a line along the tide wash as far as could be seen. Blackbirds and grackle were picking at them.
The bait fish appear to have been killed by the cold. State wildlife biologists who responded to the kill found the menhaden had been otherwise healthy, said Phil Maier of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. Officials at other nearby beaches had no reports of fish kills there.
The die-off follows the discovery of thousands of dead starfish on Isle of Palms in December, amid a growing list of sea life trauma caused by unusually cold sea temperatures. The cold has wildlife officials alarmed for food and game fish such as shrimp, as well as sea trout and red drum. Isolated reports of lethargic and dead trout and drum have been coming in to DNR, Maier said.
“We certainly are nearing temperatures where we’re concerned about shrimp too,” he said.
The situation isn’t about to get any better. More cold air is expected over the next three or four weeks, said Mark Malsick, S.C. Climate Office severe weather liaison. Another cold winter rain is forecast to move into the state Monday morning. The National Weather Service in Charleston is predicting a chance of snow flurries Sunday and Monday night as far toward the coast as Summerville.
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