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Dead fish in Port Aransas the result of algae bloom

Posted at 8:09 PM, Aug 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-20 23:53:46-04

Thousands of fish have been killed by an algae bloom, with some of them being washed onto Port Aransas beaches. There are reports they’ve also been seen in Aransas Bay and in Matagorda Bay.

In Port Aransas, the fish have been seen on a 3-mile stretch between the south jetty and Beach Access Road 1, but that the bloom itself actually continues onto the area near Beach Access Road 2.

After samples and research were done in those areas, scientists found that the bloom is not red tide and isn’t toxic to people or pets.

Deana Erdner, a professor at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, said fish kills aren’t uncommon around this time of year, because it’s when red-tide blooms do typically occur. She did say, however, what is uncommon is that this fish kill appears to impact one species, the Gulf menhaden.

“The fact that it’s restricted to menhaden is another one of those things that has folks scratching their head about what’s causing it,” she said.

Researchers found that one reason could be low oxygen levels in the water precipitated by the large algae bloom.

“There does appear to be a lot of algae cells out there,” Erdner said. “If those cells grow up and die, that can also contribute to low oxygen levels.”

Erdner said another factor could be that the Gulf waters have been rather calm and warm recently.

“Those conditions can also contribute to low oxygen levels, because you don’t get the wind moving the water around and mixing oxygen in,” she said.