Dead Fish Are Washing Up Everywhere . . . Is It Due to BP Oil Spill and Dispersants?

George Washington's picture


Dead fish are washing up everywhere.

For example, numerous dead fish washed ashore in Massachusetts a couple of days ago:

Dead fish had washed up in New Jersey yesterday.

Hundreds of thousands of dead fish washed up today in New Jersey, and even the birds wouldn't eat them:

(The second report in this video compilation - referring to a ripped fishing net - is actually from Virginia, some 210 miles
from the scene of the first report in New Jersey. The size of the
Virginia fish incident was much smaller than the one in New Jersey.)

And they have washed up in Mississippi as well.

There are also several reports of tar balls washing up on beaches prior to fish or crab kills.  See this and this. And see this.

Scientists attribute the dead fish to low oxygen levels in the Gulf of Mexico.

Indeed, scientists have been warning about this for months. For example, on May 16th, the New York Times wrote:

are finding enormous oil plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of
Mexico, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300
feet thick in spots. The discovery is fresh evidence that the leak from
the broken undersea well could be substantially worse than estimates
that the government and BP have given.


“There’s a shocking
amount of oil in the deep water, relative to what you see in the surface
water,” said Samantha Joye, a researcher at the University of Georgia
who is involved in one of the first scientific missions to gather
details about what is happening in the gulf. “There’s a tremendous
amount of oil in multiple layers, three or four or five layers deep in
the water column.”


The plumes
are depleting the oxygen dissolved in the gulf, worrying scientists,
who fear that the oxygen level could eventually fall so low as to kill
off much of the sea life near the plumes.

As I pointed out in June, the high methane content in the BP crude also depletes oxygen:


As CBS notes:

The oil emanating from the seafloor contains about 40 percent methane, compared with about 5 percent
found in typical oil deposits, said John Kessler, a Texas A&M
University oceanographer who is studying the impact of methane from
the spill.

As Kessler also points out:

This is the most vigorous methane eruption in modern human history.

A U.S. scientist says
that methane levels in the Gulf are "astonishingly high", that 1
million times the normal level of methane gas has been found in some
regions near the oil spill, high enough to create "dead zones" devoid
of life. Methane depletes oxygen, and the scientist noted:

At some locations, we saw depletions of up to 30 percent of oxygen based on its natural concentration in the waters.

Another scientist writes:

studying the [plumes] have found concentrations of methane up to
10,000 times greater than normal and oxygen levels depleted by 40 percent below normal.

And see this, this and this.

This unprecedented release of methane into the ocean could kill all life within large swaths of the Gulf of Mexico.

In addition, millions of gallons of Corexit have been sprayed in the Gulf. Corexit contains oil, propylene glycol and a host of other chemicals. Propylene glycol depletes oxygen from water. See this and this.

Of course, separate and apart from its oxygen-depleting properties, Corexit is itself toxic
to fish. Given that even seagulls won't touch the fish that are
washing up today, the fish should be tested for Corexit poisoning.

Even if there are other causes for the fish deaths - such as unusually
warm water in the Gulf - the oil, methane and Corexit could very well
be contributing to the oxygen depletion or weakening the fish's ability
to deal with such factors.

For example, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection writes:

warmer water is the less dissolved oxygen it is able to hold. If the
fish schooled very tightly in shallows very close to shore for any
reason, they may have simply used up all the oxygen that was available
to them and died.”

What reason could there be for fish schooling close to shore?

The Advocate-Messenger points out:

potentially maintaining higher levels of toxicity, the oil trapped in
the water column is also suffocating the ocean, causing radical drops
in oxygen levels never before seen, [Monty Graham, a biological
oceanographer specializing in plankton at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab on
the coast of Alabama] said.


Following the oil and methane
spill, Graham’s measurements of oxygen levels in the waters where he
studies plankton dropped to two to three times lower than normal, to a
level so low most animals cannot tolerate it.


That suffocating
effect is why all kinds of sea animals have been showing up in greater
and greater numbers, closer and closer to shore — they can’t breathe in
their normal habitats anymore.

The Post Chronicle notes:

local fishermen say they are seeing strange behavior by marine life --
mullets, crabs and other creatures which normally stay well under water
have been sighted congregating on the surface -- and they relate this
to the spill.


looks like all of the sea life is trying to get out of the water," said
Alabama fisherman Stan Fournier. "In the 40 years I have been on these
waters I've never seen anything like this before."

AP notes:

and sharks are showing up in surprisingly shallow water just off the
Florida coast. Mullets, crabs, rays and small fish congregate by the
thousands off an Alabama pier. Birds covered in oil are crawling deep
into marshes, never to be seen again.


Marine scientists studying the effects of the BP disaster are seeing some strange — and troubling — phenomena.


and other wildlife are fleeing the oil out in the Gulf and clustering
in cleaner waters along the coast. But that is not the hopeful sign it
might appear to be, researchers say.


The animals' presence close
to shore means their usual habitat is badly polluted, and the crowding
could result in mass die-offs as fish run out of oxygen. Also, the
animals could easily get devoured by predators.


"A parallel
would be: Why are the wildlife running to the edge of a forest on fire?
There will be a lot of fish, sharks, turtles trying to get out of this
water they detect is not suitable," said Larry Crowder, a Duke
University marine biologist.

Note: If you are confused as to how the oil spill could affect the East Coast, please see this and this.
However, please note that there is no proof as of this writing that
oil, methane or Corexit has made it as far North as New Jersey, let
Massachusetts, although - as Dr. Sanjay Gupta points out - their byproducts may spread further. Scientists need to test the fish and ocean water to find out one way or the other.

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lindaamick's picture

I googled "dead fish news" and got over 8M hits.  I canvassed the articles on the first 17 pages and found that fish are showing up dead in vast numbers in ponds, lakes, rivers and on beach areas all over the US.  (notable places include NJ, NY,PA, NC, FL,CA, AL and LA.).  There are also news stories from Bolivia, NZ, and Australia relating to unexplained dead water fish and animals.

In every case the "experts" cited in the articles blame hot weather which they say leads to oxygen reduction but the locals interviewed in the articles say that they have never seen anything like it.  Surely we have seen hot summers before now.

Could it be something related to the magnetic field changes or something cosmic?

goldfish1's picture

Millions of Dead Fish, Alligators, Turtles Floating Down Bolivian Rivers!

Payne's picture

My god half of you would be arguing against Darwin as well.  There is reason for valid concern.  Look into it don't kill the messenger.  Don't read the post if you don't like the messenger.

blindman's picture

as a matter of fact the warm water off the coast of maine

comes from a current/stream known as the ... , here is the kicker,

gulf stream.  a clue!

bubba1231's picture



I think you have really crossed the line.  I think what you are doin g now is reckless slander and I think you can be held legally responsible for it.  Claiming dead fish in NJ are caused by BP (when every single respectable scientist says there is no chance it entered the loop current) etc.... I think you should be sued.  You have said over and over you have no economic interest in this.  I am starting to doubt this.  And if you do have one than you should really watch it.  What you are doing is essentially LYING and the fact you can't admit you are wrong also makes you not much of a man.

Thorlyx's picture

The fishes sleep with Luca Brasi.'s picture


I posted this exact same comment above -- word for word -- four hours after you did without having read your comment first. Weird.

I have deleted my comment and referenced yours in its place. Credit where credit is due.

You're a very witty fellow, if I do say so myself. ;-)

overmedicatedundersexed's picture

fish kills - warm water, red tide, parasites, ol mom nature has many ways to kill em off..gulf oil can't compete with her.

this spill has been another made for TV hysteria boon.

much like winter and summer weather reports its all ways dangerous and unusual ..gee cold in january and hot in can we spin some fear about our environment..I put GW at at the same level of reportage.

GW you do a fine job of fanning the flames er fumes er plumes what ever.

trx's picture

Just for the record:

The low oxygen leveles in the sea has been puzzeling scientist for quite some time, since before the GOM oil spill:


Low-Oxygen Zones In Oceans Worry Scientists - March 9.

Since 2008, lots of strange looking deep water creatures have been washed up on the shores all over Asia and around the Atlantic Sea :

More Mysterious “Monster Fish” Comes To Surface- May 15.

I have no clue to what's going on, but something's clearly totally wrong out there.

Amongst other things, there's a theory about the Earth's temerature increasing from the inside...

And WTF is the fishfarmeres doing?

Norway: Police To Investigate “Monster Fish” - February 22.


I’ve also suspected a connection with the oil industry:

Mother Earth On Crack – February 27.

Earthquake May Have Shortened Days on Earth – March 2.

Earthquake Frequency Up 133% In 2010 – July 1.

Is The Earth Moving? – July 19.


Anyway - Some serious forces are at work here…



Sun Tsu's picture

Agricultural run-off, flagellum bacteria, red algae, staph bacteria

Add warm temperatures and sun light

Sun Tsu's picture

Correction: Suburban lawns and Industrial Agricultural run-off

Oh regional Indian's picture

I remember seeing my first CHEMlawn advert in the US and shaking my head and thinking, only in a mass-hypnotized society could something with a name like that sell.

Chemlawn! Go figure.


whoopsing's picture

I'm on LI,we get fish-kill's every summer,in the bay's,never on open ocean that I know of.I'll be at the beach to see for myself,I'll post anything interesting,Thank's

Kaiser Zose's picture

This is a joke right?  Dead fish in NJ due to the gulf oil leak?  Are any of the fish species involved even migratory from the Gulf to the coastal mid atlantic / northeast?  That would be an obvious first question to answer before jumping to conclusions.  There are unexplained fish die-offs all the time.  This sounds very much like junk science w/o something more than "a bunch of dead fish washed ashore in Jersey and it must be BP's fault"

goldfish1's picture

Dead fish in NJ due to the gulf oil leak?  Are any of the fish species involved even migratory from the Gulf to the coastal mid atlantic / northeast?

Why don't you do that research and shed some light on the issues being discussed here.

Sean7k's picture

In fact, all fish die-offs are explained. They are caused by industrial chemical pollution, fertilizer runoff (algae blooms), but not from natural causes. The loss of oxygen in the water is ALWAYS the result of a combination of heat AND human pollution. 

jbar's picture

Don't worry crew, the oil and disperssants have magically disappeared...we're safe now.

thesapein's picture

Here's a video someone made in honor of Matt Simmons, showing conclusive evidence that there were two wells drilled and that the current live video feed is watching the wrong one:

espirit's picture

Wow! Good Vid.  Everyone should see it, and wake up to what's happening here.

I live on the East Coast of FL and won't be eating local seafood for uh, uh, maybe forever.

AssFire's picture

I tell it like it is and get junked...GW gets pass after pass after telling partial this whole thing about the green movement or something (liberalism)??

All I want to say is the junk button is the race card for you libs here.

NEVER I mean, NEVER!, do we junk you ridiculous assertions and these morons just junk away as their opinions are like assholes..

non-anon's picture

birds are smarter than us humans who will unwittingly eat the poisoned fish.

M4570D0N's picture

Are you kidding me, GW?? What evidence is there that this has anything to do with the gulf? Don't bother showing me your link to a projection from months ago about oil entering the gulf stream. The fact is the oil never reached the loop current and it is unlikely that any oil from this spill will ever reach the east coast. Is this massive quantity of dead fish unusual and worthy of investigation? Absolutely. But you have presented exactly ZERO evidence that this has anything to do with the BP spill.

Oh, what's this? You say it's from depleted oxygen levels? The DEP (Dept. of Evironmental Protection, not Dillinger Escape Plan) agrees, but found that this incident was exclusive to a single species of fish and the low oxygen levels have nothing to do with the oil spill? No wai!

Seriously, just when I think you are almost about to come back to sanity, you go and post this nonsense. How about instead of grasping at straws for any reason to blame the oil spill for everything under the sun, and posting retarded pictures in a sad attempt to discredit your critics, you actually post FACTS. Is that really so hard for you to do?

That 3rd video is real cute by the way. And by cute, I mean unprofessional, amateurish, and completely irrelevant to the story at hand.

goldfish1's picture

I don't see you posting anything of relevance.

"Samantha Joye, professor of marine sciences at the University of Georgia, had a similar experience when she started talking about what she and others had discovered underwater. 

"NOAA wanted a vetted, concrete story. We felt we had a concrete story. The plumes were real; the data was very solid.''

Joye is critical of the one-way flow of information that she said has plagued the effort. She said university researchers give plenty of data to NOAA or the Unified Command, but very little comes the other way. 

... NOAA won't begin checking for submerged methane gases in the deep waters of the Gulf – something she said her studies have proven exist. "It seems crazy,'' she said. "There is no reasonable explanation as to why it's not being done. It just doesn't make sense.''

George Washington's picture

From your link:

“Although taken after the fact, these tests suggest that oxygen levels in the bay were probably very low and caused the die-off of fish,” said Robert Van Fossen, the DEP’s Assistant Director for Emergency Management. “These low levels likely occurred as a result of very warm weather and warm temperatures in the bay. The warmer water is the less dissolved oxygen it is able to hold. If the fish schooled very tightly in shallows very close to shore for any reason, they may have simply used up all the oxygen that was available to them and died.”

Gee, I wonder why the fish were close to shore? Could it have possibly been to try desperately to escape the oil, methane and corexit toxic soup?

In any event, the oxygen-depleting effects of the spill have been well-documented by independent scientists.

M4570D0N's picture

In New Jersey???

Again, proof please? Oh, that's right. You don't have any. Nothing. This shit is getting really absurd.

thesapein's picture

The burden of proof is on you, actually. If I warned you that your actions could kill lots of people who would not die otherwise and you took those actions anyway and then those people suddenly started dying, well, you've got a lot of explaining to do.

M4570D0N's picture

Someone died in South Dakota today because of your post. Prove that it didn't cause the death.

thesapein's picture

of course, New Jersey, because there's a current that heads north along the coast. It's like being downwind or downstream, if your brain can handle a simple analogy.

George Washington's picture

It did enter the loop current. Go look at the hisorical maps.

M4570D0N's picture

Still waiting on any evidence. Find any yet?

gasmiinder's picture

George - I saw those stories at the time.  Those links refer to SURFACE oil.  If the surface oil were the problem we would easily know it and I doubt it could be unreported.  When I say the mapping/research has not been done I'm talking about what can have happened with the deep oil plumes - as I attempted to say earlier it's really what happened to the water masses with low/no oxygen as a result of breaking down the hydrocarbons that is the concern.

The deep loop currents can be very strong and are not necessarily coincident with the surface.  The deep oil plumes certainly are not coincident with surface slicks as totally different processes are driving them.  I know there have been some oceanographic studies done but they've been lightly reported and I have not heard any reports of a concerted effort to fund the needed research.

gasmiinder's picture

Well GW - I'm sure you're aware I have been urging readers to consider this the real danger since early on.  No need to revisit that.  I will point out that it is not terribly uncommon to have fish kills in shallow bays when the temperatures get very high.

I will also point out that I believe (and this is not my specialty) that the continuous fear over Corexit/Methane is a bit of a red herring.  One key point is that methane has 1 carbon molecule, this means that in order to break it down 2 oxygen molecules must be removed from the water.  The OIL on the other hand is long chain hydrocarbons and requires 2 oxygen molecules for EVERY carbon molecule (and there are a LOT).  Breaking down the OIL therefore removes much more oxygen from the water than breaking down the methane.

Also - Corexit may have any number of carcinogens but they have been diluted to meaningless levels by now.  BUT the glycols also remove LARGE amounts of oxygen from the water.

The issue is the dead zones not the other chemicals.  I would point out that given Gulf Stream velocities if it took a month for a plume to reach a loop current there has still been plenty of time for the 'contaminated' water to reach the Virginia area, the current then moves away from the coast so some mechanism to effect the New Jersey shore would be needed.

Finally  - the comment is made above that the oil never reached the loop current.  I can't fathom how you know that.  The research was not done or has not been released where any mapping was done.  And there were undersea plumes - that was the whole POINT of pumping dispersant at the wellhead.

Look guys - I've been aggressively screaming for SCIENCE through this whole process and have the massive junks to prove it.  I also doubt strongly it is possible to tie any of these kills to the oil.  BUT - the science has NOT been done to allow us to evaluate the possibility and blowing it off as impossible is not valid given the facts we have available.  In my opinion our fine progressive government wants it to go away as fast as possible and is refusing to fund the research that would answer these questions - there are hundreds of oceanographers foaming at the mouth to do this research - but apparently we can't afford it due to the need to build bridges to nowhere.

blindman's picture


 there is nothing progressive about our "government"

or our political parties.  neither is there anything conservative

about our current paradigm.  it is all predicated on waste, excess

and atavism.

Arkadaba's picture


I totally agree with gasmiinder - we need more scientific analysis of what is happening in the gulf and what the possible ramifications could be.  To argue that these multiple fish die-offs are not related to gulf is exactly like sticking your head in the sand - they may or may not be related but I haven't seen any evidence that they are or they are not. I also agree with a post below that it would be useful to know if any of these fish species spawned in the gulf. There was a concern here when the spill started that it could affect tuna fishing in Atlantic Canada:


GW has never said that these die-offs are directly related to what is happening in the GOM but he is asking if they may be, which in my view, is a reasonable and rational question. 


TheMerryPrankster's picture

I started noticing the fish kill stories yesterday. One of the MSM affiliates is reporting the N.J. kill at more than a million fish. Thats a whole lot dead fish. Something that may not be apparent at first is the fact that Corexit doesn't need to be toxic by itself. There are several methods it might kill sea life  through.

1. is by doing its purpose of dispersing the oil  into smaller globs, so they don't float to land but are instead suspended in ocean water, they can be inhaled and ingested by the fish. This could damage their gills sufficiently that they would drown.

2. The chemical reactions of the oil,methane and dispersant destroy the dissolved oxygen in the ocean water, causing the fish to drown.

3. the Corexit is neurotoxic and can along with the peotroleum and diminished oxygen levels cause brain damage and brain lesions, causing the fish to beach themselves and die.


In most cases the apparent method of death will seem to be oxygen depletion or predators beaching them, both of which may seem natural unless the fish are studied as well as their habitiat.

BP seems to own or surpress all the data on oxygen levels in the gulf. So it is anyones guess what is killing these fish, but the fact that it is following the Gulf Stream and it occurred after dumping a quarter of a billion gallons of raw petroleum and dispersants into the Gulf of  Mexico should give one pause for consideration, that perhaps sometimes a cigar is a cigar, and sometimes a toxic oil spill is toxic.


I'm no biologist or oceanographer, so consider this my uneducated opinion. I would advise folks to give up fish for the next couple of years until this is sorted out but that's just me.

publius999's picture

Remember,  the dose makes the poison.   In fact,  because of its very low order of toxicity,  propylene glycol is used in many topical consumer products at rather high concentrations.   IIRC,  Rogaine is 10-20% or so propylene glycol. It is also used in many IV solutions.  .   

Similarly,  the main surfactant in Corexit is the active ingredient in Ducolax laxative,  chenodeoxycholic acid.  The other main ingredient in Corexit is the same chemical that gives Windex both its cleaning power and its odor.

Milestones's picture

I am using an EQUATE drug as a stool softener and it claims to be Docusate Sodium. No where is chenodeoxycholic acid mentioned. Not calling you out, just can't find that mentioned on the contents.   Milestones

Sean7k's picture

Why do you make the assumption that since propylene glycol is in consumer products it is safe? Why do you believe a government with a history of allowing poisons in the food system?

Most chemicals are never tested for toxic effects. 

Some, while known (flouride, etc) are readily placed into our food and water supplies. You assume the government is protecting us and doing honest analysis. I would like to think you are smarter than that...

Rogerwilco's picture

Corexit? More like Assexit -- that place where GW and his fans get their info. Dead fish happen -- ask anybody who lives by the sea. BTW, at about $2 agallon, those "undersea oil plumes" are valuable stuff. Why hasn't anyone rigged a salvage ship to harvest them? Oh that's right, they're moving around so much that no one can actually find them.

Old Simmons, R.I.P., was a solid 10.0 on the bullshit scale. GW is on a path to get to 9.5.

russki standart's picture

Actually, I live by the sea and I´ve never seen a major fish die off. This is something different...

jimijon's picture

I grew up on the Jersey Shore. In my twenty years there, I have no recollection of any big fish die offs.


Magua's picture

Darn, I like fish. Looks like chicken for dinner..

onlooker's picture

George Washington---- thanks for your posts, keep up the effort.