Reports of thousands of dead and dying fish in the Gulf of Mexico, stretching from Pasco to Dixie counties, were confirmed Friday by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and blamed on Red Tide.
On Wednesday, law enforcement personnel from the agency collected fish, water samples and water quality data from six locations off the coast of Hernando County. Analysis of the samples confirmed that there was a bloom of the Florida Red Tide organism Karenia brevis. The naturally occurring organism has been documented in the gulf since the 1700s.
Satellite images from the Optical Oceanography Lab at the University of South Florida showed a Red Tide bloom approximately 80 miles long and up to 50 miles wide in waters 40 to 90 miles offshore. Officials with the Center for Prediction of Red Tides did not expect much movement of the bloom patch in the coming days.
Dead and dying bottom-feeding fish found in the kill included grouper, hogfish, triggerfish and snapper, as well as sea turtles and crabs. The conservation commission reported that water quality was poor in the region.