Expert: Lots of possible causes for dead crabs in bay

Clusters of dead crabs in Hillsborough Bay along Bayshore have fishery biologist Ryan Rindone scratching his head.

“I've lived here for eight years and this is the first time I've been along this seawall and seen this many like this,” said Rindone, who works for the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.

With red tide killing off marine life in surrounding counties, it's a theory that can't be ruled out, but the FWC says it hasn't tested the bay's water for the phenomenon recently.

The Florida Aquarium’s associate veterinarian says disease could also be a possibility.

"There's a number of different things that could be implicated here,” Dr. Ari Fustukjian said. “We see animal die-offs for a number of different reasons over the course of the year. It can be related to water change, usually there will be some sort of either viral or bacterial disease outbreak."

Rindone says if it is red tide, you wouldn’t just be seeing dead crabs.

"You would have seen dead fish, first, in a lot of cases,” he said. “Not all the time, but in a lot of cases. And the crabs could end up suffocating as the bloom gets really bad."

It could also just be industrial.

"Tampa Bay is a very dynamic body of water,” he said. “There's a lot of development going just about the entire way around. So there's a lot of runoff from residential and municipal areas, there's a lot of industry that's on the bay. So some manner of runoff from those areas could have affected the crabs in a bad way."