MARCO ISLAND, Fla. - A Marco Island man reported seeing numerous dead fish floating about a mile off of the island's Tigertail Beach while out on his boat this week. Tom Schirmer took photos of the largest animals, including a grouper, a five-to-six-foot tarpon, and a sea turtle.
While 2017 has been an especially bad season for red tide fish kills in Southwest Florida, Schirmer believes this fish kill may be a result of the water discharges by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee River. The water discharges then end up in the Gulf of Mexico, bringing blue algae which can be toxic to wildlife.
"If we had a spill, and we knew that something was dangerous, that it was killing the animals, we wouldn't dump it into the water again and kill more of them," Schirmer said. "We would stop and find a way to clean it up now, before we release it into the Gulf."
Fox 4 reached out to Florida Fish and Wildlife to see what the agency knows about the fish kill near Marco Island, and what may have caused it. A spokeswoman said she wasn't sure if it had been reported yet, but that FWC always wants to know about them so that they can investigate.
Anyone who comes across dead marine life is asked to call FWC's Fish Kill hotline: 1-800-636-0511.