Fish killing on the Middle Tyger River, MNR investigation

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LYMAN, SC (FOX Carolina) – You may notice dead fish along the bank of the Middle Tyger River.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is investigating a fish kill.

A fishkill is the sudden death of a large number of fish, over a short period of time, in a certain area. And this area, specifically, is behind the Middle Tyger Library.

Brad Kiser knew something was wrong, as he frequents the river often.

“We come here and fish occasionally. They are usually just small fish,” Kiser said.

The fish weren’t biting that day. When Kiser looked down, he quickly understood why.

“There were dead fish everywhere,” Kiser continues, “It’s the first time I’ve seen something like this.”

Kiser took a few photos and reported to the DNR. Neither the department nor the Tyger River Foundation were aware of what happened until Saturday September 17.

SCDNR’s Greg Lucas says he understands why residents are alarmed. His team found crappie, largemouth bass and other assorted species floating around.

“Fish being killed is a bit upsetting, like any time you see a lot of species dying,” Lucas said.

Lucas explains that fish kills can occur naturally, such as during the summer when fish are trapped in low oxygen areas or in the environment.

“It could be pollution,” Lucas said, “It could be an accidental release of, say, fluid from a water treatment plant. It kind of runs the gamut.

Lucas says the fish occasionally kill on lakes and such, but they’re rare on a body of water like the Tyger River. MNR has been collecting fish to determine the cause of the kill and if fines are necessary.

Kiser’s main concern is whether this will affect the Lyman community.

“Drinking water is upriver from here,” Kiser said, “So we kind of wanted to know exactly what’s in it.”

Lucas says it depends on what their investigation finds. For now, he suggests visitors stay away.

“Luckily these things are short-lived,” Lucas said, “if a release of some sort of chemical is the cause, it’s usually detected fairly quickly.”

The role of DHEC is to determine the cause of fish mortality. And if fines are necessary, DHEC would impose them. The role of the SCDNR is to determine the value of the resource, in monetary terms, and report to the DHEC. MNR is still working on its fish kill report.

The number of dead fish is undetermined, but we will follow up once the DHEC findings are released.

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