There are hundreds of dead rotting fish that can be seen for miles in Florida’s Indian River Lagoon. An estimated hundreds and thousands of them are floating in muddy polluted water.
“It could get worse before it gets better.” says Mike Conner, who has been fishing in the area since the 1970s. Fish kills are common in the area but the reason behind this particular one is as murky as the water around them.
In January, Florida received triple the rainfall it usually receives and as a result, the excessive rainwater mixed with fertilisers and pollutants in urban areas. That, coupled with a warmer water caused a toxic algae to bloom depleted the water of oxygen.Terry Williamson, a biologist with Natural Resources, said: “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.”
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have asked people not to handle the dead fish. Natural Resources Management are conducting a water test to determine the source of the fish kills.
According to FloridaToday, decades of pollution from septic tanks, fertilizers, stormwater runoff and other sources, along with massive climate change has had a severe impact on the lagoon.
The Indian River lagoon which is actually made of three lagoons is the most biodiverse lagoon system in the Northern hemisphere and harbours more than 3,000 species of plants and animals. It also brings in $300 million in fisheries revenues, and is a popular hotspot for tourists.