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.’)