The fish kill reported earlier this week was confirmed by the FWC and determined to be a Red Tide bloom. The area of the fish kill is huge and utilizing Satellite images the area concerned was estimated to be 80 miles long and 50 miles wide from 40 miles to 90 miles offshore and runs offshore from Pasco to Dixie counties. Satellite images from the Optical Oceanography Lab at the University of South Florida revealed the extensive surface bloom.
The fish kill included Grouper to 30 inches dead and floating along with several other species. This event was investigated by the Florida FWC this week, and was determined to be much larger than originally thought. One charter boat fishing the edge of the huge area on Sunday last, nothing whatever was caught in that area. However, by moving a couple miles inshore to 40 feet, 8 legal size red grouper over 20 inches and lots of gray snapper were caught.
“The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) have confirmed a large-scale offshore fish kill in the northeast Gulf of Mexico. Citizens have reported observations of thousands of dead and dying bottom-dwelling reef fish, including grouper, hogfish, white grunt, triggerfish and snapper, as well as sea turtles and crabs, to the FWC's Fish Kill Hotline. Water
quality is poor in the region with several reports of black water.
According to Captain Frank of Alwaysfishing.com, this is a very unusual fish kill as it is much further north and much larger than normal. The principle problem fishing this area is you won’t catch much. This area is generally further offshore than most local anglers traverse. To be certain where you fish it would be best to consult the FWC or use a charter that is familiar with the area. Obviously this will impact commercial grouper fishermen. Why fish where there is nothing left to catch?
On July 23, FWC Law Enforcement took scientists to collect fish, water samples and water quality data from six locations offshore of Hernando County. Sample analysis confirmed a bloom of the Florida red tide organism, Karenia Brevis. Blooms of Karenia Brevis in the Gulf of Mexico are naturally occurring and have been documented since the 1700s.”
In the future, if you find a fish kill, report it to the FWC. To report fish kills to the FWC, contact the Fish Kill Hotline at 800-636-0511 or submit a report online. Remember, this fish kill is approximately 80 miles long and up to 50 miles wide in waters 40 to 90 miles offshore between Dixie and Pasco counties.