Experts worry fish kill could impact manatees

- It began one week ago, as tens of thousands of fish -- more than 30 different species in all -- floated to the top along a 50-mile stretch of the Indian River Lagoon.  Authorities suspect brown tide may be to blame. 

"They were suffocated. They could not breath," said Dr. Robert Weaver, the director of the Indian River Lagoon Research Institute.  He said he just received new data about oxygen levels in the lagoon at the the very beginning of a massive fish kill.  "This would be Saturday at 2 a.m. on this line here," he said, gesturing to a chart that showed there was no oxygen at the depth of water where this sample was taken near Sykes Creek in Merritt Island.

Weaver said algae had gobbled up all the oxygen. "With all these dead fish in the water, so many people are looking at this saying, 'Who's to blame for this?'" said Weaver. "This is a tough question to answer, because we all have to look in the mirror. This problem started years ago with unfettered development over the past 50 years is what's to blame for this."

Weaver said he believes decades of fertilizer runoff by an ever growing population and antiquated storm water systems created high nutrient levels that are fueling recent algal blooms. But it's not just killing fish.  He said sea grasses are likely dying too, which are the keystone of the lagoon's ecosystem.

"That's manatee food. Manatee eat sea grass. So we can expect that it's likely the manatees will start being stressed," he said.  "I'm not a marine biologist, I'm not a scientist.  Leave that to them to answer that question, but the scale of this fish kill, they haven't seen anything like this in 50 years."

Up Next:

  • Popular

  • Recent


FOX 7 News streams at the following times (all times Central):

Monday - Friday

4:30 a.m. - 10 a.m.

12 p.m. - 12:30 p.m.

5 p.m. - 6 p.m.

9 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.


6 a.m. - 8 a.m.

6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

9 p.m. to 10 p.m.


6 a.m. - 8 a.m.

5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

9 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Schedule subject to change in the event of network sports coverage.

We also stream press conferences and other breaking news coverage from time to time. When we are not in a live newscast, you will see replays of the most recent broadcast.

To enter full screen Mode click the button.

For closed captioning, click on the button while in full screen mode.

Desktop/tablet users: To choose the stream's video quality, click on the button (while in full screen mode) and choose from 432p or 270p.

Mobile users:The video quality default is to your phone's settings.

Please allow time for buffering. If the stream stalls, refresh your browser. Thanks for watching

Stories You May Be Interested In - Includes Advertiser Stories