Dozens of dead fish wash ashore Old Tampa Bay in Philippe Park

Posted at 6:28 PM, Mar 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-02 03:28:06-04

SAFETY HARBOR, Fla -- Dozens of small dead fish washed up in Philippe Park on Friday. It was hard to avoid them along the shore of Old Tampa Bay.

"It was really quite devastating. I bring my dog Haley here all the time so the thought of something perhaps being in the water or just more information of what could be going on with the really helpful," said Lori Kollin, who was playing fetch with her dog.

By Saturday the fish were gone. "Between the rain and the tides the fish could be a mile away from here or in the middle," said David Natelson, who is still concerned over what killed them.
"It would be nice for them to come test the water here and maybe FWC could take a look around the shoreline, up and down upper Tampa Bay," he said.

He's in the water all the time kite boarding. 

"Something made the oxygen level lower that killed the fish. I don’t think it’s pollution, I wouldn’t think because there’s no water treatment plant, there’s no factory," he said.

Florida Fish and Wildlife officials say they haven't heard of a fish kill in that area, but passed along the info to their fish kill hotline staff to investigate.

They say algae blooms and red tide can also kill fish, plus a lack of oxygen in the water can suffocate them.

They sent this info Saturday:

Low dissolved oxygen is by far the most common cause of post-storm fish kills. When oxygen levels get too low, fish are unable to obtain the required amount of oxygen necessary for metabolism. Several factors may occur in concert to cause this condition: Wind-In small lakes or ponds, wind action may push surface waters to one side of the lake. Water from the bottom comes to the surface to fill the space the surface water used to occupy, bringing with it sediments and organic materials from the bottom. This water from the bottom is naturally low in oxygen. 

The bottom materials may include hydrogen sulfide; in high enough concentrations, hydrogen sulfide can be lethal to fish and is responsible for any "rotten egg" or "sewage" odors. Bacteria in the sediments are also brought to the surface; these bacteria decompose the organic material from the bottom, using up oxygen in the process. This whole event is termed a "turnover," since literally, the bottom comes to the top.

In aquatic ecosystems, the oxygen manufacturing system consists of microscopic organisms and aquatic plants that carry out photosynthesis: using energy from sunlight to create carbon-based nutrition for themselves with oxygen as a by-product. When there are long periods of cloudy days, these organisms produce less oxygen. At night, photosynthesis doesn't occur at all, and these same oxygen-producers are actually using up oxygen during respiration, just like fish and other animals. Under these conditions, it does not take long before there is little oxygen left for fish. Low-dissolved-oxygen fish kills often occur early in the morning, when oxygen levels are at their lowest."

FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Health Group encourages the public to report any fish kills to their Fish Kill Hotline at 800-636-0511. 

While fish deaths are expected during times of red tides, hurricanes and extreme cold weather, public reports help us determine the size and scope of the impact and if there are any other factors that may be contributing to the fish kill.