Advertisement
  1. News
  2. /
  3. Environment

Rainy days mean fish hit Tampa Bay area streets

Spotting a catfish by your curb is not all that unusual when it rains hard around Florida and elsewhere.
A small fish was spotted swimming across flooded River Drive in Lithia on Saturday as the nonstop rains caused the nearby Alafia River to rise by about 2 feet over flood stage. [ANASTASIA DAWSON   |   Times] [ANASTASIA DAWSON  |  Anastasia Dawson]
A small fish was spotted swimming across flooded River Drive in Lithia on Saturday as the nonstop rains caused the nearby Alafia River to rise by about 2 feet over flood stage. [ANASTASIA DAWSON | Times] [ANASTASIA DAWSON | Anastasia Dawson]
Published Aug. 21, 2019

During the heavy rains that inundated the Tampa Bay area recently, several residents reported spotting what they thought was a remarkable sight: Fish swimming in the flooded streets.

For instance, last Saturday brought reports that the Alafia River had swollen beyond its banks and sent catfish scooting down the road past the stilt homes scattered around Lithia Springs Conservation Park.

Blame an overwhelmed stormwater system. When floods hit, the culverts are supposed to keep water flowing beneath the road, not on it. But the culverts couldn’t handle the heavy flow, and thus water from area creeks and rivers jumped over the asphalt — and brought with it whatever fish got caught in the current.

This is not the first time this fishy phenomenon has happened here. In 2015, a Tampa TV station doing a story on flooding caught footage at the corner of Hillsborough Avenue and Sawyer Road of a Tampa man at a curb trying to catch a fish with his bare hands. He finally pulled it up on the sidewalk.

It’s not an only-in-Florida event, either. Last year a man in Harlingen, Texas, shot video of fish swimming in the street in front of his house. Three years ago, the Weather Channel broadcast footage of salmon swimming across a road in Washington state.

The most famous street-swimming fish, though, are found in Florida — specifically in Miami Beach, where sunny-day floods tied to rising seas have from time to time led to a piscatorial pavement parade.

“You go down to Miami and when it’s flooding at high tide on a sunny day, fish are swimming through the middle of the streets," then-President Barack Obama said during a 2015 news conference. (Politifact declared this “half true” because he meant Miami Beach, not Miami.)

In 2016, the flooding got so bad a small octopus washed up in a Miami Beach parking garage. The following year, a video clip that went viral showed a man with a fishing rod reeling in a good-size catch from a flooded street in South Beach.

“Caught that dinner, baby!” he shouts in the video.

However, a story in the Miami New Times questioned whether the video was real, given the angler worked for a local bait shop. The paper speculated that this could be a ploy to sell worms.

As for the fish themselves, their fantastic voyage should not cause them any harm (as long as no one catches and cooks them), according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. That’s assuming that when the floodwaters dry up, they don’t get trapped in an area no longer connected to running water. If that’s the case, they could die from a lack of oxygen.






YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

  1. The H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute purchased 775 acres in central Pasco County for a planned expansion. TIMES [VYCELLIX, A SWEDISH CANCER THERAPY RESEARCH COMPANY, IS SETTING UP ITS U.S. HEADQUARTERS NEAR THE H. LEE MOFFITT CANCER CENTER & RESEARCH INSTITUTE IN TAMPA. (TIMES FILES]
  2. Debbie and her husband Michael, of Parkersburg, West Virginia, fish from the Dunedin Causeway Thursday. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission extended the period of catch and release for several species of fish along the west coast of Florida. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  3. A slurry of dead fish, the result of Red Tide, moved out of Clearwater Harbor on the north side of Sand Key Park during a 16-month-long algae bloom. So many fish were killed that the state is limiting anglers to catch-and-release when it comes to snook, redfish and sea trout.  [Times photo (2018) by Douglas R. Clifford]
  4. A pair of wood storks, left, and a large group of white ibis rest and feed in a wetland area off Loop Road in the Big Cypress National Preserve. Florida is home to more wetlands than any other state except Alaska. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times (2008)]
  5. Pasco County commissioners introduced an ordinance Tuesday governing upkeep of empty property after residents complained about the condition of the Links Golf Club in Hudson, which closed in June 2019. [MICHELE MILLER  |  Times]
  6. Rep. Blaise Ingoglia on the floor of the Florida House in 2017. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times] [SCOTT KEELER  |  TAMPA BAY TIMES]
  7. In this radar image from the National Weather Service's Key West facility, a massive flock of migratory birds is seen moving north early Monday. The green/yellow objects are biological objects flying north over the Keys. The darker blue objects indicate rain. [National Weather Service]
  8. These marine mammals were named "right whales" because they were considered by whalers to be "the right ones to hunt." [NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION]
  9. Island Estates, a neighborhood in Clearwater Bay. There are three City Council races on this year's ballot as the city prepares for the realities of climate change. [LUIS SANTANA   |   TIMES  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  10. Florida Department of Environmental Protection staff conduct regular seagrass monitoring to assess the health and diversity of seagrass meadows within the St. Martins Marsh and Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserves north of Tampa Bay. A state legislator wants to extend the aquatic preserve to all of Citrus, Hernando and Pasco counties.

Charlie Shoemaker for The Pew Charitable Trusts [Charlie Shoemaker for The Pew Charitable Trusts]
  11. One of two dolphins found dead in Florida recently of gunshot or stab wounds. [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration]
  12. Florida stopped providing free juice at welcome centers last year. [Times (2015)] [Tampa Tribune]
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement