A mass of dead pogies has washed up on the shore of Greenland Cove in Bremen.
According to Maine Marine Patrol Maj. Rene Cloutier, a Marine Patrol pilot in a seaplane spotted the pogies during a routine patrol around 2-3 p.m., Wednesday, July 4, and the agency dispatched officers to look into the matter.
Cloutier said he believes the cause of the dead fish was fishing-related.
“A certain amount of mortality occurs when fishermen harvest pogies,” Cloutier said. The pogy, or menhaden, is an important bait fish for the lobster industry.
Cloutier did not describe the event as a die-off or an intentional dumping. He said dumping is more likely to occur when larger numbers of pogies are being harvested than the area is currently seeing.
Maine Department of Marine Resources spokesman Jeff Nichols said no further investigation into the matter is required. He said it would be impossible to accurately determine the number of dead pogies in the cove.
Doug Newbold, who owns property on Greenland Cove, said he first noticed the pogies Wednesday.
Newbold said a strong southern breeze from Pemaquid had been keeping the fish near the shoreline regardless of the shift in tides.
“In the really small coves is where it is really worse, where they are slowly decaying,” Newbold said.
Newbold said the sea gulls have found the fish, but there are roughly 10 dead fish for every bird and with the recent spate of hot weather, the fish have started to break down quickly.
Newbold said his property sits on roughly 500-600 feet of shoreline and there were hundreds of fish washed up in that area.
“They were very plentiful. Around the cove there are thousands. It had to be thousands,” Newbold said.
Newbold said his family has owned property on Greenland Cove since the 1940s and he has never seen anything like what happened Wednesday.
Jody Shapiro, who encountered the pogies while attempting to go for a swim, also estimated their number in the thousands.
Shapiro said the pogies are starting to smell.
“The tides are washing them up on the rocks, and when it does that, the outgoing tide doesn’t take them out,” Shapiro said.
Shapiro said in 18 years on the cove, this is the first event of its kind that he has witnessed.