Biscayne Bay suffers another fish kill; Scientists suspect pollution from the canal

MIAMI – More than 1,000 fish recently died in the northern basin of Biscayne Bay in Miami-Dade County.

Rachel Silverstein, the CEO of Miami Waterkeepera nonprofit organization working to keep Biscayne Bay clean acted quickly to assess the tragedy.

“There was one trigger where we see almost no oxygen,” Silverstein said, adding, “The wildlife is literally suffocating in place.”

Conditions are similar to those that triggered the 2020 fish kill. Scientists estimate that more than 27,000 marine animals died that hot week of August.

“There’s just too much pollution in the bay and it’s causing the seagrass to start dying off,” Silverstein said.

With up to 90% of the seagrass gone in parts of the northern basin, little to no oxygen is produced at the bottom of the bay.

“This loss of seagrass due to pollution creates conditions that make the bay really vulnerable to these fish kills,” Silverstein said.

On Wednesday afternoon, scientists from Miami Waterkeeper and the University of Miami took water samples at Pelican Harbor and collected data to identify the source of the low-oxygen event. The mouth of the Little River Canal was an area of ​​concern.

“We are anoxic. Anoxia means there is almost no dissolved oxygen left in the water,” said Aliza Karim, research manager for water quality at Miami Waterkeeper.

Chris Langdon, a marine biologist at the University of Miami, sounded the alarm.

“It gets extremely stressful for fish at that level,” Landon said. “There isn’t enough oxygen for her.”

In preparation for Hurricane Ian, the water industry was forced to lower the level of its channels into Biscayne Bay to mitigate potential flooding. This, coupled with the recent royal floods, may have been the recipe for disaster.

“The large amount of polluted water discharged when the canals’ levees were lowered before the storm may have fed into this circuit and created the conditions for the bay to suffer these fish kills,” Silverstein said.

Scientists said cleaning the channels is vital to restoring the health of the watershed, and until that is done, scientists fear these fish kills will continue to occur and worsen.

“Basically, nature is crying out for help and we’re doing everything we can,” said Irela Bague, Miami-Dade County Chief Bay Officer.

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https://www.local10.com/news/local/2022/10/19/biscayne-bay-suffers-another-fish-kill-scientists-suspect-pollution-from-canal/ Biscayne Bay suffers another fish kill; Scientists suspect pollution from the canal

Sarah Y. Kim

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