Yet another widespread fish kill materialized in Florida this week — this time in Collier County.
Luckily for summer beach-goers, the fish kill seems to be over as of Wednesday, the same day officials determined its cause.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission tested several water samples and came to the conclusion that the kill is the result of an algal bloom, which cut off oxygen to some species of fish. “The coastal water samples that we received on July 19 had dissolved oxygen levels that were low enough to cause a fish kill,” says Carli Segelson, media relations coordinator for the Conservation Commission. The bloom is located about 4.5 miles offshore.
Though samples revealed a bloom of mixed bacteria, Segelson says that it is likely non-toxic.
“Water samples from the region revealed a mixed bloom of the dinoflagellate Takayama tuberculata mixed with diatoms including Hemiaulus,” she says. “Toxin production of Takayama tuberculata in Florida waters has not been documented, although it is a species that is related to known toxin producers. Hemiaulus is non-toxic.”
Segelson says the commission is testing the water for toxins and will continue to monitor the event. They will collect additional samples on July 25.
A recent boom in the Caloosahatchee River also affected marine life. But according to Segelson, that bloom was caused by an entirely different species and is not related to Collier County fish kill.
Similar algal blooms and fish kills have cropped up in waterways across the state — and are often the result of excess nutrients in the water (brought on by fertilizer, failing septic tanks and industry runoff). Environmentalists argue that Florida needs stricter water pollution standards, but a set of “numeric nutrient criteria” have been heavily debated in the past year.