Thousands of dead fish, crabs, eels and other marine life wash up, ‘never seen before’, on the shores of South Florida’s Biscayne Bay, USA #Fish #Crabs #eels #Octopus#Shrimp #Florida #BiscayneBay #USA
Thousands of dead fish and other sea life washed up this week on the shores of South Florida’s Biscayne Bay.
The fish kill was first reported on Monday. Members of Miami Waterkeeper, an advocacy group, saw about a dozen dead fish when they went out to conduct weekly water sampling. Then reports of dead fish, shrimp, crab, eels, octopus and other animals came in from North Miami to Virginia Key.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” local resident Kathryn Mikesell told New Times. She has swam in the bay at least three mornings a week for five years.
Researchers and government agencies are still investigating the cause, but indicators point to very warm water temperatures and low levels of dissolved oxygen in the water, according to a news release from Miami Waterkeeper.
“It’s an emergency. The bay is not in a good place right now,” Piero Gardinali, an associate professor at Florida International University who is helping investigate the fish kill, told New Times. “It’s a warning sign.”
In addition to the dead fish, a large group of rays, believed to be struggling to breathe, huddled along the shoreline near the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station, a bird rescue and rehabilitation facility on Biscayne Bay. Personnel from a nearby science aquarium used soaker hoses and air pumps to aerate the corner of the bay where the rays had taken refuge to save them.
Fish and other underwater marine life rely on dissolved oxygen in the water to survive. Warm waters bring those levels down. The Waterkeeper noted very high water temperatures of about 90 degrees in the area where the fish kill was first discovered.
Algae blooms can also cause low oxygen levels, but the Waterkeeper said in an update Thursday that there was no evidence of a toxic bloom. They think an ongoing die-off of sea grass, which produces oxygen, could be a main factor that led to the fish kill.
More than 20 square miles of seagrass has disappeared from the bay in recent years, according to the Waterkeeper. A study last year from NOAA warned that the bay’s ecosystem was on the verge of a “regime shift”. The study found increasing levels of nutrients in the water, which causes numerous impacts that are detrimental to marine habitats.
“We are passing a tipping point for the bay not being able to support any life – literally overnight, the bay became a dead zone,” Miami Waterkeeper said of this week’s fish kill.
“This event is not a ‘normal occurrence,’ but rather a sign that something is seriously out of balance in our bay.”
Courtesy of weather.com