FWC: Fish kills likely due to cold water

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If you think the cold weather has been hard on you, but it's been downright deadly for some sea creatures.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officials confirm they have been receiving reports of fish kills. They say certain species just can't handle the sub-tropical water temperatures.

In Pasco County, Mike Celentano says he saw hundreds of fish, some dead and others struggling to survive, Friday morning.

“They were all over the canal. It was thick enough you probably could have stepped across to the other side,” said Celentano.

From the top deck at his home in Hudson, Celentano says he saw something strange in the water.

“We get a lot of marine animals in here - dolphin, manatees - so I ran outside thinking it was something unusual,” he said.

So he grabbed his camera and started recording, but what he saw wasn't the kind of unusual he was hoping for. Instead, he captured the death of what he described as hundreds of fish, specifically jack crevalle.

“It was very sad to see them suffering like that, like a slow, painful death,” said Celentano.

He says the fish seemed disoriented and floated to the top on their sides before dying. Some he explains were eaten by other animals or scooped up by people.

“If they're not going to waste, that'd be nice,” he said.

FWC officials tell FOX 13 they've also been getting calls of snook dying in Bay Area waters from Levy County down to Pinellas. Experts say the cold waters can be a death trap for the two types of warm weather fish.

“Anything below 54 degrees is considered the lowest they can tolerate so they may start to experience cold stress right around there or even a little warmer,” said FWC public information specialist Michelle Kerr.

Kerr says larger marine life like manatees seek warmer waters in places like natural springs or canals. But officials explain it’s too early to tell just how many fish have been killed.

If the kill is deemed significant it could have lasting impacts on the local ecosystem.

“Fish populations can take months to recover from massive fish kills and researchers are still accessing the effects of the cold front on various fish species,” said Kerr.

To report a fish kill to FWC, call 800-636-0511 or visit FWC's website for fish kill reporting information.