Only months after a massive redfish kill hit the St. Johns River, more dead fish are popping up in the water. The victims this time are sore-covered baitfish. Reports of the dead fish began coming in last week, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is currently testing water and fish samples at a state laboratory.
Though the cause is currently unknown, many suspect that blue-green algal blooms (which are often toxic and notorious along with St. Johns) could be the culprit. In addition to algae, the river has recently been plagued by a mysterious foam, which has not yet been tested for toxins.
The St. Johns Riverkeeper posted the following regarding the recent spike in dead fish:
This week, we have received several calls about fish kills in the St. Johns River near the San Marco and Lakewood areas of Jacksonville. These reports differ greatly from those we received during the summer when a significant number of redfish, gar and rays died from a mysterious cause that has still not been fully identified. Scientists suspect it was related to toxins released by algae.
The recent kills were menhaden, a small sardine-like fish commonly used by fishermen for bait. What is alarming is the fact that most of the hundreds, if not thousands, of dead or dying fish that have been reported have large sores on them.
Those wishing to report a dead fish can call the FWC’s Fish Kill Hotline at 800-636-0511.