Several unusual events recorded off the east coast in Virginia and North Carolina have been tied together by mystery-mongering sites. Are the booming sounds, fish kill and dead dolphin related? Probably not but it’s awfully tempting to link it all into one narrative and promote it as a scary doom and gloom event.
Booming sounds off the coast of North Carolina are actually a fairly regular occurrence. That is, they happen occasionally, probably every year, and the explanation is not pinned down. So, there is a head scratcher there, no doubt. They could be caused by sonic booms, earth movements (shallow quakes or sediment compaction/settling), or atmospheric situations, among other possibilities. The unusual booms reported this week shook up local residents.
The U.S. Geological Survey wants to hear from coastal residents about two rumbles that shook houses from the Carolina coast to Delaware Monday, but the federal agency’s instruments detected no earthquakes in the region.
Unlike the occasional booms heard and felt along the Outer Banks from time to time, Monday’s rumbles lasted as long 20 seconds. The first occurred at 4:24 p.m., according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and the second at 6:24 p.m.
Offshore training exercises or a weather system are speculated as to the potential source of the event(s). Most of the responses reported to the USGS were from Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk and Nags Head (Outer Banks), as well as some in Virginia. But we often never can pin down the source for sure. These things just happen. It’s unsettling but nothing to get panicked about.
The next day, dead fish appeared en masse along the Outer Banks of NC.
A dolphin and thousands of dead fish have washed up on the beach on the Outer Banks over the past few days.
The dolphin was reportedly found Tuesday morning along Carova Beach.
The mammal was found in the area where locals have reported seeing thousands of dead fish wash up across miles of Carova Beach.
The fish have been identified as Atlantic Menhaden, said Charlton Godwin of the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries, which is investigating the kill off.
Mass die offs of menhaden are also relatively common (Google “menhaden fish kill” to see). Large schools of these fish can be corralled by predators and pushed into shallow waters where they die from lack of oxygen. Then they wash onshore. We’ve covered many such stories of fish kills that are perfectly natural. The dolphin, however, is a bit unusual. The common dolphin is not actually common in this area. However, if it was weak or injured (it was bitten), it could have gotten wrapped up in the fish cloud. Tests are being conducted.
The local Fish and Wildlife department sees such events quite a bit and didn’t find anything particularly worrisome about it. Though, people who observe such mass die offs often are concerned that something could be wrong in the environment. They also fear if it kills animals, it may be harmful to them. There is currently no indication that that is the case here.
There is also no connection to be made (except in time and location) with the booms. Coincidences happen! If there were some massive oceanic event that caused the boom and killed these fish, we would have seen other signs of it – more and different kinds of fish, other evidence washed up on shore, some sort of change in environmental measurements. We don’t see that. So, as usual, the mystery mongering sites spin a tale of fiction that is meant to frighten, not inform.