The cause of the ongoing fish kill in the Savannah River has been identified as Aeromonas hydrophila, according to Savannah Riverkeeper Tonya Bonitatibus.
In a July 2 Facebook video, Bonitatibus said the organization has received around 70 reports from fishermen of fish that are dying or have died.
An email sent from the Savannah Riverkeeper states the organization worked with state agencies and scientists to get the samples of dead fish analyzed.
“Those fish all had body sores that tested positive for an infectious bacteria that also affects humans,” according to the email. “That bacteria is normally found in waters in the Southeast but is typically too low in concentration to cause many infections.”
The email states as soon as there is a “full picture,” the organization will release a more detailed report.
Bonitatibus said the sores on the fish were analyzed by Auburn University after being sent there by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
Bonitatibus suggests in the video that if people have open sores, they shouldn’t get into the river system. If people do get in, they should wash themselves when they get out.
She said the No. 1 question she has received is if the fish caught from the river can be eaten.
“I’m going to be honest with you: You do you,” she said.
“DNR says cook them well enough, you can still eat them. I’m going to tell you that I’m not going to eat them,” she said.
She said one thing is for certain: If the fish are collected, let the Savannah Riverkeeper and local DNR officials know and do not put the fish back in the water.
Bonitatibus said most of the fish have been found in the Augusta area, but there have been reports closer to Savannah, Georgia.