And I ran, I ran so far away . . . folks hoping to take a leisurely walk downtown along the river, be advised: It’s been very Bodega Bay down there lately. It didn’t take long for local gulls to notice the massive influx of menhaden into the Providence River. A similar scenario has been happening over on the Seekonk River, but seeing this play out in and among the office buildings, bridges, and walkways is particularly weird. WPRI News spoke with a representative form the DEM for an explanation:
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) told 12 News the gathering of gulls is due to a recent “fish kill” in the river. It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet for black-backed [largest gull in the world] and herring gulls as they go after a species of fish called menhaden.
DEM spokesman Mike Healey said the fish kill is a natural event.
“These fish are dying because there’s not enough oxygen given the number of fish in the schools,” Healey explained. “Hundreds, thousands die. For every single fish that’s dead, though, there’s a hundred fish that are living.”
“I think probably because we had a mild winter this past winter, we had more schools of these menhaden sort of hanging around in the rivers,” Healey said.
As for how long the gulls stick around, Healey said it’s impossible to tell if this will be a yearly occurrence, adding that it depends on environmental factors.
Maybe we should just paint the whole boardwalk white (Farrow & Ball’s Spring Guano).
One last bit of advice: When you look up, close your mouth.
Up by the Crawford Street Bridge. WPRI video here.