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Large fish kill found in Cape Coral Canal

Fish Kill in Cape Coral
Posted at 5:17 PM, Jan 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-04 05:19:46-05

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — It's not a sight we like to see here in Southwest Florida, but boaters out on Cape Coral Canals came across dozens dead fish.
Along the Kuhn and Ceitus Canals, one family was caught by surprise when they were out on the water fishing and saw so many dead fish.

The canals in the area aren’t under any Red Tide warnings.

"You could see the fish everywhere. It was just a mess," said Nancy D'Orazio, a Cape Coral Resident. "The water was just so dark and murky."

A mess D'Orazio wasn't expecting when she went fishing with her family, something they do weekly. But on Monday morning they came upon a startling scene of something they've never seen or smelled before.

"It was just very jarring, because there were huge fish everywhere, big, small, there were just so many of them," D'Orazio said. "That is what was so scary about it."

That scary scene with an intense scent left her with many questions for the city of Cape Coral.

"It would be good if they tested the water maybe just to see what is in our waterways," D'Orazio said. "Is it just our canal? Is it all around? I mean our children are always fishing and swimming."

"Obviously, something caused that massive mortality," said Dr. Barry Rosen, a professor at Florida Gulf coast University's (FGCU) Water School. "It looks like it's a canal area that's not getting any flushing. In other words, no water flowing in and out of it. So, I wouldn't be surprised if where all of the materials from Hurricane Ian the bacteria are chewing it up."

Dr. Rosen said with the warm weather, it can cause the bacteria to grow faster—and as the bacteria grows, they can consume oxygen.

"That looks like a classic low dissolved oxygen, low enough that the fish couldn't get away and couldn't swim out of the canal fast enough," Dr. Rosen said.

He explained that for the bacteria to survive, it has to feed on organic matter such as broken-down plant material. With no proof of an algae bloom in the area, he believes this is part of the aftermath of Ian.

Fox 4 asked the city if they were aware of the fish kill and what was the city's plan, a spokesperson responded that they are looking into it.