Insight & Analysis

Fried fish sparks New Jersey power outage

Published: Sep 2023

A fish has been reported as the cause of a power outage affecting more than 2,100 people in Sayreville, New Jersey, located southwest of New York’s Staten Island.

Osprey bird flying with a fish in its talons

While fish are not common offenders of power outages, animals in general – most commonly squirrels – are likely to cause problems to power lines.

Utility company, Jersey Central Power & Light have announced the fish involved in the Sayreville blackout was dropped by a bird as the fish’s scales appeared punctured, presumably by talons before being dropped.

Experts now believe an osprey was responsible for dropping the fish onto the power lines. The bird species were previously endangered in New Jersey but have made a strong recovery with 733 nesting pairs recorded last year.

A spokesperson at Jersey Central Power & Light, seemed to sympathise for the bird over its lost lunch, saying ‘we send our thoughts to the osprey because if you’ve ever dropped your ice-cream cone at the fair, you know the feeling.’

Alternatively, the Sayreville local police force has taken a comical approach in favour of the struck down fish, urging the public not to forget ‘the victim in this senseless death’. The police department posted a suspect sketch of the osprey to Facebook, along with a picture of the fish, which they have named Gilligan. The police force reported in their post ‘Gilligan was a hard-working family man. He was a father to thousands of children. The suspect was last seen flying south. If you see him do not try to apprehend him. Although he isn’t believed to be armed, he may still be very dangerous.’

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