Monday, September 15, 2008

Bunker Kills

There have been a couple of bunker kills this summer that I missed out on reporting about, for whatever reason -- one in Narragansett Bay, another somewhere along Long Island Sound (I can't remember where). Here's a recent one, along the Branford River. These things are no doubt unpleasant but it's hard to attribute them to pollution, mainly because there are records of bunker kills occurring as long ago as the 1600s. Here's something I wrote a few years ago:

In 1679 a Dutchman visiting Staten Island reported:

“Lying rotting upon the shore were thousands of fish called marsbancken, which are about the size of a common carp. These fish swim close together in large schools, and are pursued so by other fish that they are forced upon the shore in order to avoid the mouths of their enemies, and when the water falls they are left there to die, food for the eagles and other birds of prey."

About 150 years later, Henry David Thoreau was living on Staten Island with William Emerson, Ralph Waldo’s brother. He spent a lot of time exploring the beaches and also observed a mossbunker or menhaden kill. (Thoreau and Walt Whitman, by the way, spelled it ‘moss bonkers.’)


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