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Matlacha seeing increasing numbers of fish floating on surface of the water

dead fish.jpeg
Posted at 4:59 PM, Jun 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-17 05:29:05-04

MATLACHA, Fla. — Fishermen in Matlacha awoke to a troubling sight this morning - fish of all sorts floating on the surface with other fish at the surface gasping for air. This is just the latest fish kill to happen here in Southwest Florida over the years.

Upon visiting the Island Seafood Market on Matlacha this morning, fish could be seen floating on the surface, some dead on the bottom. Fish of all species were acting in very strange ways.

There were dead sheephead, brim, snook, trout and eels.

Casey Streeter, the owner of the seafood market who is also a commercial fisherman, tested the water this morning. He found oxygen levels at zero percent. Later on at 11, the levels were still at zero.

Streeter said these are even lower oxygen levels than he saw during the 2018 red tide event.

NOAA Researcher, Dr. Christopher Kelble, explained the problem more in-depth.

Dr. Kelble said that the freshwater runoff is full of organic material that makes the oxygen in the water lower.

“It can be grass clippings. Fertizler can be a problem because it will actually simulate the phytoplankton in the water to bloom and those die and get consumed and cause hypoxia as well,” Dr. Kelble said.

“We have been seeing hypoxia, which is low oxygen, being a constant problem in this area both inshore and slightly further offshore,” Dr. Kelble said. “The further offshore, low oxygen conditions seem to be associated with red tides that lingers over the summer. And the inshore conditions seem to more associated with freshwater runoff. And when freshwater runoff is the highest is when temperatures are the highest and when oxygen is the lowest.”

A spokesperson from the City of Cape Coral said they were unaware of this kill or any link to its canal system. They said this is part of the reason why they feel like the Chiquita Lock should be removed.

“This a problem that can be fixed. And right now our city is wanting to take out another lock, Chiquita lock, which is really just going to exacerbate the problem and really just put more bad water in another area - which our area doesn’t need," the spokesperson said.