MES is aware of many dead striped bass in several Falmouth estuaries. The MA Division of Marine Fisheries has been notified and is monitoring the situation. MES will provide updates with any additional information.
MA DMF has determined that the fish died because they gorged themselves too heavily on cinder worms that recently spawned in the area. Cinder worms are small aquatic worms that live in the mud of salt ponds and estuaries, with springtime spawning events lasting about two to four weeks. When many of these worms spawn simultaneously, they can “choke out” the stripers. The dead fish DMF observed were fully engorged with the worms, and the worms were also found in the fish’s gills, essentially suffocating them. DMF stated that this occurrence is not entirely uncommon.
DMF tested the water in Great Pond and concluded that the fish did not die as a result of poor water quality, harmful algal blooms, or anthropogenic reasons. DMF officials also looked at the fish for injuries related to fishing gear and found none.
DMF noted that the dead fish have been turning up in Falmouth for at least a week, so the event could already be coming to an end. If the fish keep dying, DMF will continue to investigate.