October 23, 2013 at 3:26 am #738MikeKeymaster
Red tide blamed for dead fish in Manatee River
BY KATHLEEN CULLINAN
BRADENTON — The banks of the Manatee River were clean at 5:30 a.m.
Thursday when Allan Engel, a charter fishing captain, lowered his
boat into the water for a spin.
But by noon, dozens of bloated fish carcasses were bobbing along the
rim of the boat ramp at 59th Street West as he pulled his boat back
The water was so thick with dead fish that a catfish fin stabbed a
tire on his trailer.
“They weren’t here this morning,” Engel said as air hissed out of the
tire. “That right there just cost me a hundred bucks.”
Engel and other area fishermen said they had rarely seen so many dead
fish — evidently casualties of red tide — turn up in the Manatee
River as came ashore Thursday.
The fish kill wasn’t limited to the shoreline, or the western edge of
the river. Dead fish were spotted floating in the river as far up as
the Green Bridge between Palmetto’s and Bradenton’s downtowns.
Red tide is not typically found in rivers. The dead fish in the
Manatee River were probably killed by red tide in the Gulf and washed
into the river by winds and high tide, said Scott Willis, a spokesman
for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Willis said the agency found dead fish floating in Tampa Bay, which
is also unusual. The thinking is that those fish were blown in by
wind, too, he said.
Engel stood next to the boat ramp Thursday and pointed to the types
of fish he had seen bob to the surface: mullet, trout, grouper,
The sight of so many carcasses can’t be good for tourism, he
said. “That’s not going to make you want to eat any of that fish.”
Nadine Slimak, a spokeswoman for Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota,
agreed that wind and high tide probably explained the appearance of
so many dead fish in the river.
Slimak said she wasn’t sure if the fish turning up in the river meant
the red tide was getting worse.
But Charles Smith, a retired Bradenton sign painter who said he is a
regular at the 59th Street boat ramp, was sure the red tide had never
been so bad.
“That’s the worst I’ve seen in 18 years,” Smith said as he looked out
at the bobbing white specks all along the river surface.
“This has hung around too long,” he said. “I wish they could find
some way to stop that red tide.”
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