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Red Tide Bloom Causing Gulf Fish Kill

By: Lynn Burkhead, OutdoorChannel.com

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reported on Friday that a red tide bloom has apparently caused a "... large fish kill in (the) northeast Gulf of Mexico."

The Commission indicated that it has confirmed a significant offshore fish kill after citizens reported observations of "... thousands of dead and dying bottom-dwelling reef fish in the affected area."

Fish species confirmed to be in the kill reportedly include grouper, hogfish, white grunt, triggerfish and snapper. Officials with the FWC also indicate that sea turtles and crabs are also involved. Water quality is said to be poor in the region along with several reports of black water.

A FWC news release indicates that on Wednesday, July 23, FWC law enforcement officials took biologists and scientists to six different offshore locations in Hernando County. Analysis of water samples secured from those spots confirmed that a bloom of the Florida red tide organism, Karenia brevis, was occurring.

A naturally occurring organism, blooms of Karenia brevis have been documented in Florida waters since at least the 1700s according to a FWC news release issued on Friday.

Subsequent satellite images from the University of South Florida's Optical Oceanography Lab have revealed that this most recent bloom is an extensive one on the surface, occupying an area of Gulf waters that is some 80 miles long and up to 50 miles wide.

The affected area is said to be some 40 to 90 miles off the Florida coastline between Dixie and Pasco counties. If there is some good news regarding the bloom and fish kill, it might be the fact that FWC officials do not believe that the bloom patch will move much in the coming days.

Anyone observing fish kills in Florida's coastal waters is urged to report them at once to the FWC's "Fish Kill Hotline" at 1-800-636-0511.

Reports may also be made online at www.MyFWC.com/FishKill.

For updated red tide status reports in the Sunshine State's vast Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic Ocean waters, to track existing red tide blooms or to learn more about the natural occurrence of the phenomenon, visit the FWC's Internet site at www.MyFWC.com/RedTide.

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