Reports of fish kills on Longboat Key spiked early last week and continued through Friday, Jan. 22, according to Longboat Key Public Works Director Juan Florensa. But there’s good news.
“It’s related to the cold snap we’ve had over the past couple of weeks,” Florensa said. “It’s not red-tide related, and that’s a good thing.”
The public works department has received reports of fish kills involving cold-sensitive types of fish, such as snook, tarpon and groupers. The town confirmed with officials at Mote Marine Laboratory that the fish kills were not red-tide related.
Florensa said that in the more than eight years he has worked on Longboat Key, he has never seen cold-related fish kills.
“Typically, fish kills are associated with a red-tide event,” he said.
Although red tide is currently present in very low concentrations of between 1,000 and 5,000 Karenia brevis in the Naples area, it has not been detected on Longboat Key since December, when it was detected in similar concentrations.
According to Florensa, the fish kills have not created a smell or nuisance. Residents do not need to report the fish kills, Florensa said. Typically, the fish will sink to the bottom of the ocean and become feed for other fish.
In response to fish kills throughout the state, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has issued an executive order, temporarily extending closed harvest seasons for snook and temporarily establishing closed harvest season for bonefish and tarpon. Bonefish and tarpon will return to their normal status March 31, while snook season will resume Aug. 31.
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As of Tuesday, Jan. 26, Mote Marine Laboratory’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital continued to treat nine of the 44 cold-stunned turtles that began to arrive during the week of Jan. 4. According to Mote public relations specialist Hayley Rutger, the hospital is treating a total 16 turtles, a level above its capacity.
“Usually our full capacity is about 10 turtles,” Rutger said.
Mote continues to seek donations of closed-cell foam padding, “kiddie” pools, cattle waterers, spray bottles, towels, blankets, tarps, spring clamps, ventilated containers and monetary donations for food, medications and satellite tags for the sea-turtle hospital. Call 388-4441.
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