The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has confirmed a large-scale offshore fish kill in the northeast Gulf of Mexico. Citizens have reported observations of thousands of dead and dying bottom-dwelling reef fish, including grouper, hogfish, white grunt, triggerfish and snapper, as well as sea turtles and crabs, to the FWC’s Fish Kill Hotline. Water quality is poor in the region with several reports of black water.
On July 23, FWC Law Enforcement took scientists to collect fish, water samples and water quality data from six locations offshore of Hernando County. Sample analysis confirmed a bloom of the Florida red tide organism, Karenia brevis. Blooms of Karenia brevis in the Gulf of Mexico are naturally occurring and have been documented since the 1700s
Satellite images from the Optical Oceanography Lab at the University of South Florida revealed an extensive surface bloom approximately 80 miles long and up to 50 miles wide in waters 40 to 90 miles offshore between Dixie and Pasco counties. Short-term forecasts of bloom movement by the Center for Prediction of Red Tides do not predict considerable movement of the bloom patch in upcoming days.
To report fish kills to the FWC, contact the Fish Kill Hotline at 800-636-0511 or submit a report online at Research.MyFWC.com/FishKill. For updated red tide status reports, to track blooms or to learn more about red tide, visit MyFWC.com/RedTide.