Bitter cold kills fish across eastern North Carolina

NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) — The Division of Marine Fisheries has closed spotted seatrout season as cold-stunned fish continue to wash up on shorelines across the East.

“A cold stun is just very simply when the water gets to a certain temperature that the fish just can’t withstand anymore, and they succumb to it,” said Steve Poland, a spotted seatrout biologist for the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries.

It doesn’t happen every year; sometimes every five to six years.

The stunning cold has left one species of fish in deep trouble.

“For spotted seatrout, it’s one of the main factors of natural mortality,” said Poland.

Pictures of dead spotted seatrout continue to pour in from 6 bodies of water stretching from Surf City to Manteo.

“We will probably continue to see fish stuns for at least the next week,” said Poland. “We’re not out of the woods yet.”

Poland said to leave these fish alone if you come across one.

“I suggest to let nature take its course,” Poland said. “Certainly don’t go out and harvest any of these fish.”

But do report it to the Division of Marine Fisheries.

Biologists will use reports to get a more accurate idea of how much damage was done.

That shut down remains in effect through June 15.

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