TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida wildlife officials say a large offshore fish kill in the northeast Gulf of Mexico is being caused by a red tide.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says citizens have reported thousands of dead or dying reef fish like grouper, hogfish and snapper as well as sea turtles and crabs.

READ MORE: Lauderhill PD Investigating Deadly Shooting

Using satellite images, FWC found an 80-mile long, 50-mile-wide surface bloom of red tide offshore of Dixie and Pasco counties.

FWC scientists collected samples of fish, water and looked at water quality data and confirmed that the red tide organism Karenia brevis is to blame.

READ MORE: Citizens Insurance Nears 600,000 Policies

FWC says the organism is naturally occurring and has been documented in the Gulf for hundreds of years.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

MORE NEWS: Florida Lawmakers Won't 'Mess With Bingo'

RELATED CONTENT:
[display-posts category=”news” wrapper=”ul” posts_per_page=”5″]