Most anyone spending time near the bay or ocean this fall will tell you that the amount of baitfish in the water is remarkable.

The most common sight has been massive schools of Bunker (Menhaden) moving along the bays and beaches all along the South Shore.

Chris Paparo, Manager of the Marine Sciences Center at the Southampton Campus of Stony Brook University, attributes the abundance to new regulations protecting bunker that went into effect several years ago.

Since Bunker are the most important forage fish along the East coast, their continued comeback is great news all the way up the food chain.

If you have seen any of the recent features on on the Humpback Whales in our area, you can also thank the bunker population.  Without the bunker the Whales would be long gone.

Unfortunately, big numbers of bunker in closed quarters can create problems as well.

This became evident on Monday morning when a huge school of bunker became trapped in the Shinnecock Canal and suffocated due to lack of oxygen.

Chris Paparo tells me he has been fishing Shinnecock for over 30 years and has never seen anything like it.

Some estimate up to million fish line the bottom of the canal.

While unfortunate, this is not the result of anything sinister like brown or rust tide.

Below are some images and video taken by Chris on Monday.


Chris Paparo | Fish Guy Photos

Fortunately, some commercial fisherman were able to make the best of it, recovering an estimated 60,000 pounds that were shipped to Maine for Lobster bait.


Chris Paparo | Fish Guy Photos


Check out more of Chris Paparo’s work at his Facebook Page: Fish Guy Photos and Instagram