STATE INVESTIGATES DEAD FISH OFF OF NI`IHAU

February 5, 2009, 8:38 AM HST · Updated February 5, 3:59 PM
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(Posted by Wendy OSHER © 2009)

The state is investigating a report of a large number of dead fish found along the Niihau shoreline. The report was made on Monday, February 2nd by the owner of the private island, located off the west coast of Kauai.

DLNR aquatic biologist Don Heacock, along with Department of Health Clean Water Branch specialist Gary Ueunten traveled to Ni`ihau to conduct an investigation into the report.

A preliminary investigation revealed that at one location on the southern end of the island, about a hundred dead fish were found on the beach. Other coastal areas were spot checked and revealed lower densities of dead fish. Based on their condition, the observed dead fish may have expired at some previous time.

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Species found included triggerfish (humuhumu), rudderfish (nenue), and a snapper (taape), along with several other species in smaller quantities. Samples were taken and will be examined to try and determine the possible cause of death. Follow up surveys are also being planned.

In the interim, the public is advised not to capture and consume any fish that seems impaired or sluggish in its movements and has any strange or unusual odor. DLNR officials say these and other unusual conditions may be caused by some type of unknown contaminant, parasite, disease, or marine toxin. Consumers are advised to ask where fish was caught and avoid consuming fish caught in coastal waters of Ni`ihau until more information is available.

Anyone with information on the fish kill is asked to contact: Don Heacock, DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (Kaua`i): (808) 274-3344; or Watson Okubo, DOH Clean Water Branch: (808) 586-4309.

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