Dead fish line Saluda River’s edge

June 5, 2014 

An egret rest on the rocks on the Saluda River.

C. ALUKA BERRY — caberry@thestate.com Buy Photo

People walking along or paddling on the Saluda River on Wednesday were greeted by hundreds of dead blueback herring, the result of a rare early season fish kill.

The cause and the number of fish killed weren’t entirely clear Wednesday afternoon.

One possible cause: A large school of herring might have been sucked into the Lake Murray dam’s hydroelectric turbines and flushed into the river, according to Ross Self, chief of fisheries for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.

S.C. Electric and Gas, which manages the lake and the hydro plant, also tested the dam spillway early Wednesday. Congaree Riverkeeper Bill Stangler says the timing of the kill and the spillway test makes that a likely cause.

Whichever the case, the cause seems to be related to operation of the dam or spillway, not to the water quality issues that often result in late summer fish kills, Stangler said.

-- Joey Holleman

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