Red tide strikes again, killing hundreds of catfish along Palma Sola Causeway

Less than a mile from Robinson Preserve, where hundreds of dead mullet were spotted Tuesday, more dead fish lined the shore along the Palma Sola Causeway.

Crews began working to pick up the fish that were likely killed by red tide around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. The cleanup, aided by Manatee County Jail inmates, went smoothly until the tractor used to scoop the debris into large bins was sent to the shop for a flat tire repair.

Lavonche Galloway, a maintenance worker for the city of Bradenton, said the fish began lining the shores a few days ago, and that they expected to have them all cleaned up by Wednesday afternoon.

The south side of the causeway saw the worst of it, according to Galloway, pointing to fish along the causeway that crews had raked into piles. As they worked, vultures circled overhead.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Galloway said.

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According to the a mid-week red tide update that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission released Wednesday afternoon, the fish kills occurred despite Karenia brevis concentrations that have “generally decreased” since last week.

Experts said water samples in Manatee County did not show high concentrations of 1 million algae cells per liter, but there were medium levels, which may cause “respiratory irritation and probable fish kills,” according to the agency.

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On Tuesday, the Bradenton Herald reported on a fish kill in the Robinson Preserve that caught county officials by surprise. County staff are looking into any damage caused by the fish kill that seemed to target mullet, but the majority of the dead fish on the south side of the causeway were catfish.

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The new wave of dead fish comes after reports of decreased concentrations of the deadly red tide-causing K. brevis algae. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is set to release another report Friday afternoon. While red tide was likely to blame for both recent fish kills, there was no sign of the bloom on Cortez Beach on Anna Maria Island.