No, that was not an oil spill Thursday on the Sakonnet River. A trawler gathered up the oily pogies to sell them for bait.
One Tiverton Patch user sent an e-mail wondering what the boat was doing out there.
Tiverton Harbormaster Dave Vannier said this is a common fishing practice, although last year it wasn't such a big deal because there weren't large schools of pogies, technically known as menhaden, in the local waters, but it was in previous years.
"I'm not sure if it was the hammering of the bridge," he said.
He said the pogies are sold either for bait or for cat and other animal foods.
"They grind them up and use the oils," Vannier said, noting the fish, when gathered in large groups, produces an oily slick that drips from their scales, and ends up in the water.
"It's non-polluting and biodegradable," he added.
Resident Jim Lipe also sent in a photo of the trawler, saying at times you can see a plane just flying lazy circles in the sky, and they can see the schools of pogies below the surface and radio the information to the boats. Then, when the boat gets in place a smaller boat pulls a net out to encircle the school, then as the net is raised the fish get sucked up by a giant vacuum that spits the fish into the hold and water back in the bay.
Lipe noted that if you walk on either side of the shore beyond the area of the former railroad bridge, you find many bricks left from the huge factories that processed the pogies from local sailboats and then-steam boats.