The gulls had a feast, but Cupids residents are wondering why thousands of dead fish suddenly started washing up on their shores earlier this week.
Eddy LeDrew of Cupids said the fish started washing up Sunday.
“One morning I noticed that the gulls were eating a lot of fish out in the (saltwater) pond,” he said. “The gulls were taking a lot of fish out of the water, which is unusual for this time of year. They were feasting on them. I looked out with a spyglass, but I couldn’t figure out what it was.”
Walking out on the wharf, LeDrew discovered thousands of dead and dying fish, floating on the surface and washing ashore. They were small fish, two inches to a foot long, said LeDrew, and included catfish, crayfish and eels, as well as crustaceans like shrimp and crabs. “They were floating in and out on the tide. They were all either dead or dying.”
Sam Whiffen, spokesman for the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans office in St. John’s, said the department received a report about the dead fish Tuesday and sent an officer to investigate. By then the birds had picked Cupids clean.
“Witnesses reported to the fishery officer that the dead fish were noticed when a large number (of) seabirds began feeding on the fish,” wrote Whiffen in an email to The Telegram.
“Witnesses managed to collect 11 samples of various fish species before the seabirds consumed all of the dead fish. A survey of the area did not identify any sources of pollution or habitat destruction. Officers with Environment Canada have collected water samples and the dead fish for testing.”
Whiffen noted Fisheries and Oceans Canada is the lead agency when fish die due to natural causes or physical damage to fish habitat, and Environment Canada takes the lead on marine-based pollution. “Both departments are collaborating on the investigation.”
LeDrew helped gather the samples for investigators, and said he’s never seen anything like it.
“It’s very strange, what happened,” said LeDrew. “I don’t know what it was. It had to be something powerful dumped in the water somewhere, went out with the tide and took everything with it, killed everything inside the cove and the pond there.”