Following a Tuesday night lightning and thunderstorm that shook the North Fork, Frank and Bertha Raynor of Mattituck woke up yesterday morning to a morbid — and pungent — surprise: all 120 of the koi, which they had for about 15 years in their backyard pond, were dead.
“I looked out here and I said, ‘Oh, there’s the Peconic River’ after that fish kill over there,” Mr. Raynor said.
Mr. Raynor said he is sure that lightning from the storm was the culprit, either by striking the pond directly or by disrupting the pond’s systems. The Raynors also lost hot water, the television signal and a portion of the house’s air-conditioning.
“It’s got to be either the lightning or the fact that the pumps went off,” he said.
To clean up, the Raynors pulled all the fish out of the pond and placed them in black garbage bags, which they tied closed. By Wednesday afternoon, the strong odor of rotting fish was noticeable about 25 feet away from the bags and dozens of flies were buzzing around.
“It seems like a nightmare,” Ms. Raynor said. “It’s unbelievable. We’ve never had anything like this happen before.”
Luckily, though, the Raynors said the smell has not moved into their house or toward their neighbors.
Lightning once struck the pond five or six years ago, but it did not kill any fish and only broke two of their backs.
“One of them was in here,” Ms. Raynor said. “The other one died a year or so ago.”
The Raynors said they were not too upset by the financial ramifications, especially since they did not buy all 120 fish. While koi are sometimes expensive to buy, they purchased several small ones for about $15 each 15 years ago and allowed them to breed since then.
They were, however, saddened by the sentimental loss.
“It was very sad,” Ms. Raynor said. “Very sad. Even [our grandchildren] were sad because they had some of them named and they knew exactly who they were.”
Mr. Raynor said now he will clean the pond, put in fresh water and repopulate it with new fish, and it should be up and running within a month.
“I’m going to take each one of the kids over to this place in Manorville,” he said. “He has huge koi that he sells, and I’m going to have each one of the kids pick one out and put it in here.”
Caption: Bags full of dead fish collected flies at the Raynor household on Wednesday.