WALL TOWNSHIP, N.J.(CBSNewYork) — A massive cleanup effort was underway along the New Jersey coast on Saturday, as dead fish continued to wash ashore.

Hundreds of thousands of dead bunker that washed up along the Shark river on Monday have started to rot along the banks, CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown reported.

“It has been strange the past couple days to see all these fish wash ashore,” Wall resident Tara Murphy said.

Crews spent the day clearing beaches with pitchforks and buckets.

“I know we’re taking away container load after container load,” Director of Wall Township Public Works, Robert Hendrickson explained.

In Belmar, crews had already carted off more than 30 tons of dead fish.

The beach was mostly clean on Saturday morning, but with each new tide cycle comes the concern that more fish could wash up.

“If you look out across there now you don’t see a lot floating, so hopefully we’re getting a handle on it,” Hendrickson said.

Experts believe that a school of bunker fish was chased into the river by predators during a rare moon tide. There simply wasn’t enough oxygen available to sustain the volume of fish that came in.

The Department of Environmental Protection is leading the cleanup effort along the Shark River between Neptune and Belmar.

Over the weekend one-hundred inmates will join the cleanup effort. Volunteers are pitching in too, because the clock is ticking and residents want the fish to be a distant memory by Memorial Day Weekend.

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