Hundreds of dead fish have washed up on Honeymoon island, creating a heinous odor and ruining the labor day weekend for many beach-goers.
“I’m not seeing anything new coming in the surf, what’s there looks like it’s been there a couple of days, but it’s bad smelling right now,” said island visitor Denise Doulgeris.
Amazingly enough, many people still stayed on Honeymoon island’s beaches, despite the fish graveyard. As park manager Pete Krulder explained,
“We were very, very busy. We had some folks that came in and said, we can’t deal with this. We gladly refund the money, apologize. There’s not much we can do about it, but we had a lot of people on the beach too.”
The cause remains unknown.
Officials on Honeymoon island have sent some of fish to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to determine the cause of death. However, there is a strong suspicion that the massive red tide event that appeared off the coast of Florida earlier this month had something to do with it.
A red tide is a bloom of algae, which turn the ocean waters brown, orange or red. Off the coast of Honeymoon island and Florida, the algae blooms are natural and have been recorded since the 1700s. Nevertheless, this most recent red tide is the largest since 2005. It was measured at 60 miles wide and 90 miles across.
The algae release toxins that will kill fish and other oceanic life, which is what possibly caused the fish to die off the coast of Honeymoon island. Red tides can harm humans too. Ocean life contaminated by the algae can cause serious illness in humans and the toxins can cause eye and respiratory problems (coughing and wheezing).
Luckily the event off the coast of Honeymoon island seems to be moving further away from the shore in the gulf of Mexico.
However, there will be an economic price for Honeymoon island locals.
Congressman David Jolley has been requesting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to increase funding into research on the Florida’s red tide events and how to fight them in the future. As Jolley explained,
“The last major Red Tide bloom in 2005 had significant impact on our fisheries, the marine recreation industry, the local tourism industry, and the quality of life of all Pinellas residents. The current bloom has the potential to affect our economy in much the same way as the 2005 event.”
For the people who depend on Honeymoon island for their incomes, any help dealing with the dead fish would no doubt be appreciated.
[Image Credit: Marufish/Wikimedia Commons]