Hundreds of dead fish found on James Island

By Sheldon Dutes  bio | email | Twitter 

JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - People living in one James Island subdivision have a real stinky mess on their hands. Hundreds of dead fish are floating on the surface of a man-made lake in the back of the Riverfront Community, leaving behind a horrible stench.

Helaine Christy and her family recently came back from vacation to find the unpleasant surprise in their backyard.

"We came back to the lake and looked and there were hundreds of dead fish all around the perimeter of the lake. Mullet, red fish and all kind of fish," Christy said.

The dead fish have started to decay and fade from their exposure to the sun, but the putrid smell is enough to make you want to hold your nose.

"If you go outside you'll smell it, it's powerful. It smells like dead, rotting fish," Christy said.

The Christies are relatively new to the Riverfront Community, but for neighbors across the way like Doug Wakefield, the fish carcasses and their horrible stench are somewhat familiar.

"About 25 years I've lived in this house and almost every time we have a really hot summer it happens almost every time," Wakefield said.

According to a spokeswoman for the Department of Natural Resources, the pond's high water temperatures and lack of oxygen are killing all of the fish.

DNR said its fairly common among coastal ponds in our state, but it's still tough to deal with.

"It has a smell...with all these dead fish. You definitely would not want to be out there now," Wakefield said.

There's no public agency responsible for the area so residents are on their own for getting rid of the dead fish. They can either scoop up the carcasses or let nature run its course.

"It'll be gone in a few days. They'll all sink after a while. They'll decompose, sink, then the crabs will eat them," Wakefield said.

"It's sad," Christy added, "I feel bad that all these fish had to die. Maybe we can do something to improve the conditions of the lake, perhaps get together as a neighborhood."

If residents want to prevent future fish deaths, DNR suggests they hire a Lake Management Expert to come out and assess the situation in their neighborhood.

According to DNR, the last time they were out in the Riverfront Community for dead fish was the summer of 2008.

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