Tuesday, March 22, 2016

County, Sheriff's Office Clean Up Brevard County Fish Kill

Thousands of dead fish float in Brevard County waters
Thousands of dead fish killed by a Brown Tide algae bloom in the Indian River Lagoon float around Patrick Air Force Base on Monday. Brown tides are caused by the pelagophyte Aureoumbra lagunensis. The algae depletes the dissolved oxygen in the water to such a low level that fish suffocate and die. Photo Courtesy of Katey Roebuck.

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. -- Brevard County's Natural Resources, Public Works, Solid Waste Management and Parks and Recreation departments are working in tandem with the Brevard County Sheriff's Office in response to the recent Indian River Lagoon fish kill that has left thousands of dead fish, stingrays, and crabs washed up on Brevard County's lagoon shorelines.

Cleanup began Monday morning to remove any dead fish spotted on the shorelines of County parks and any affected County-owned waterfront property. The cleanup is being organized by Parks and Recreation. The Sheriff's Office has agreed to provide assistance to the County as needed with inmate labor.

Natural Resources Management is conducting water tests to determine the source of the fish kill, which was first discovered on Friday. State officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission are also involved.

Terry Williamson, a biologist with Natural Resources, said the office is collecting water quality data and samples but initial findings point to an algae bloom generated by warm conditions and high nutrients in the lagoon last week.

"There are a lot of nutrients in the water, causing the algae to bloom. When the local nutrients are depleted and the algae starts to decompose the dissolved oxygen drops to a level that killed some fish," he said. "The high winds we're having today should help mix the water in the lagoon and get the oxygen levels back up."

Williamson said residents can play a role in helping avoid fish kills. That includes keeping leaves and grass clippings out of storm drains and following the county’s fertilizer ordinance. 

More Indian River Lagoon