MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Miami Mayor Francis Suarez is taking steps to address the recent fish kill in Biscayne Bay while Miami-Dade County uses its fireboats from PortMiami to try and oxygenate the water.
In a series of tweets on Saturday, Mayor Suarez posted his four-point plan to help the marine life.
He wrote, “I’ve taken four emergency steps to address the fish kill in the bay. We are deploying emergency pumps to attempt to aerate the water. We worked with our partner organisations and departments to have compost receptacles so that volunteers can clean the bay of dead fish so it doesn’t contaminate other live marine life. We have requested from the South Florida Water Management District whether or not there is a runoff based on hurricanes and we are drafting a letter to add point of sale information about fertilizers, pursuant to our ordinance which bans the use of them at this time.”
I’ve taken four emergency steps to address the fish kill in the bay. We are deploying emergency pumps to attempt to aerate the water. (1/4)
— Mayor Francis Suarez (@FrancisSuarez) August 15, 2020
On Friday, angry residents dumped a pile of dead fish in front of Miami City Hall to get the attention of local leaders.
This after thousands of fish died in the Bay and then washed ashore, causing a big stink for neighborhood residents, especially in Morningside Park, just east of Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood. Morningside Park appears to be the epicenter of the fish kill, but dead fish have been seen from North Miami to Virginia Key.
Experts say the fish kill is being caused by little to no oxygen in the water.
Dr. Todd Crowl, FIU Institute of Environment Director, described the situation as “a perfect storm”.
“You’ve got high temperature, you’ve got what looks like low wind, the bay is not mixing, and then you have all this water running over land bringing all the contaminants, fertilizers, weed killers. It all hit the bay. All those things happened at once,” he said.
Crowl said the average water temperature this time of year is 82.6 degrees. Right now, it’s approaching 90.
He also pointed out that the usual amount of rainfall in July is around 6 inches. This year, there were ten inches, which means more storm water drained into the bay.
Data from a new high-tech buoy shows sea life is suffocating.
“Oxygen levels went to zero. So, it’s not surprising all the fish are dead,” said Crowl.
FIU, along with county and city leaders are now working on pumping oxygen into the bay as a short term solution.
“We’ve been seeing the warning signs for years,” said Dr. Rachel Silverstein, the executive director of advocacy group Miami Waterkeeper.
She said there has to be a long term solution to protecting Biscayne Bay, like permanently fixing sewage leaks and avoiding fertilizer, especially, in the rainy summer months.
“Here we are. Not enough has been done and clearly because we are reaching conditions where the bay is no longer supporting life,” said Silverstein.
According to MiamiWaterkeeper.org, many species of fish and marine life have been killed, including pufferfish, toadfish, eels, shrimp, trunkfish, pinfish, lizardfish, hogchoker, hogfish, barracuda, parrotfish, angelfish, blue crab, horseshoe crab, seahorses, octopus, lobster, grunts, mangrove snapper and more.
On Saturday, Silverstein posted on Twitter the efforts taking place to keep marine life in the bay alive.
“What we’ve done today is coordinate with Port Miami and Miami-Dade County to get fireboats on scene near North bay village in order to try and oxygenate the water in a place where we’ve seen a lot of fish struggling to survive and struggling for air. So the hope is the fire boats can spray their hoses into the air, oxygenate the water and get more oxygen to the fish that so desperately need it. FIU scientists are on scene taking measurements to see if its working and to see if we need to do this in other places as well.”
Fish & other marine life washed up this week on the shores of Biscayne Bay, but the cause is yet to be determined @MiamiDadeCounty partner @MiamiWaterkpr point to warm water temperatures & low levels of oxygen in the water. @miamidadefirerescue boats 21 & 73 to oxygenate pic.twitter.com/ReIGt32eVn
— PortMiami (@PortMiami) August 15, 2020
The county, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and FIU are working together to narrow down the exact sources of what’s depriving the bay of oxygen.