EASTPOINT, Fla. (WTXL) — Biologists at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission believe they have identified what caused fleshy lesions to appear on fish found near St. George Island.
WTXL first reported the gruesome looking fish in February. A concerned resident sent pictures to WTXL of some of the fish he caught last month. According to a local angler, nearly every fish he saw in the area appeared to have these fleshy sores on their bodies.
WTXL contacted FWC who sent over the findings to fish health biologists. According to FWC, the resident who originally reported it learned that the fish was undersized and returned it.
However, through other fish samples, biologists say the sores were likely caused by an influx in freshwater.
"Lesions on fish can occur for a variety of different reasons. Researchers confirmed from other fish sampled that this type of lesion likely occurred from an influx of freshwater, such as after heavy rainfall, and are more common in water temperatures between 64-72°F," the organization says.
FWC says scientists can examine any legal-size fish with lesions to confirm the cause of them. They are encouraging anglers who catch fish with similar issues to call the Fish Kill Hotline at 1-800-636-0511. From there, you can arrange for free shipping of the samples for analysis.