Fish kill brings quick concern, quicker response

By Crystal Cole/Islander Editor
Posted 8/7/17

Boaters around Perdido Pass and other areas of Orange Beach have noticed an unsettling phenomenon in the last few days- hundreds upon hundreds of dead fish at the surface of the water.

It’s …

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Fish kill brings quick concern, quicker response

Posted

Boaters around Perdido Pass and other areas of Orange Beach have noticed an unsettling phenomenon in the last few days- hundreds upon hundreds of dead fish at the surface of the water.

It’s known as a fish kill, and it’s an unfortunate thing to witness. While not entirely uncommon, the last fish kill in our area was almost exactly two years ago.

According to scientists at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, this particular fish kill looks to have been caused by a low oxygen event rather than a red tide- a name given to a large concentration of algae known to kill sea life.

“High nutrient, freshwater runoff contributing to normal phytoplankton blooms, along with relatively low wind and slack tides, will often lead to low oxygen events, especially in the summertime when water temperatures are high,” the Sea Lab representative said.

With so many fish afloat in the water and washing ashore, the city jumped into action to begin cleanup efforts.

"The City of Orange Beach began to experience a fish kill last weekend and immediately responded by activating our standing debris removal contractor Crowder Gulf,” said Ken Grimes Jr., City Administrator for Orange Beach. “Contracted employees working alongside city crews from our Coastal Resources Division and Public Works responsible for shoreline cleanup, the effort collected and disposed of a significant share of dead fish floating and trapped along shorelines specifically in the Cotton Bayou and Perdido Pass area.”

Heavy rains recently without significant winds to churn the water have contributed to the low oxygen levels in the water.

“We always take these environmental issues seriously and work to respond quickly to mitigate the negative impacts for our businesses, residents and guests,” Grimes said. “The last major fish kill was exactly two years ago during the same week of the year. It's an odd phenomenon but we appreciate everyone's patience."

With an outpouring of concern on Facebook and other social media channels, the problem quickly became the talk of the island. Orange Beach officials responded just as fast.

“It's great to have an elected body that realizes when such an unpredictable event occurs, they are fast to support staff recommendations on covering unbudgeted expenses related to a response like this,” Grimes said. “Led by Mayor Tony Kennon, we always focus on the best and most effective response to serve the greatest good. Our environment here on the Alabama Gulf Coast means everything."