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TPWD Investigates 100s of Dead Fish Washing Ashore on Texas Coast

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On Wednesday, September 12, hundreds of fish washed up on the beach between Mustang Island and Packery Channel. Texas Parks and Wildlife began investigating this and other fish kills in the Coastal Bend. Testing both the water as well as the fish, they found evidence of a red tide.

Consisting mainly of gizzard shad, the fish kill was determined to be the result of red tide (an algal bloom) after further water testing revealed a modest level of 100 to 1,000 cells per milliliter. In the process, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department also hasn’t ruled out things such as runoff from recent rains causing low oxygen levels.

TPWD Investigates 100s of Dead Fish Washing Ashore on Texas Coast

Photo: Facebook/Lindsey Duncan

According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, “Additional water samples were collected at Bob Hall Pier and Mustang Island State Park. Although no cells were observed at those sites, slight aerosol irritation was observed at Mustang Island State Park.” Though red tide blooms are not normally found in waters off the Texas coast, this Nueces County incident necessitated testing, and updates on the potential for the algal bloom are featured on the link available here.

TPWD Investigates 100s of Dead Fish Washing Ashore on Texas Coast

Photo: Facebook/Harcourts Mandela Bay Port Elizabeth

Red tide is common throughout the world. It takes its name from the brown-to-red color of large concentrations of aquatic microorganisms, which cause the water to grow murky. It can be found in places at which saltwater meets freshwater, however, the microorganisms can’t survive in freshwater environs. The blooms produce natural toxins such as ichthyotoxins and brevetoxins, which are harmful to salt-water creatures. They are also classified as HABs (or Harmful Algal Blooms) as a result of their effect on marine life as well as their potential for harmful human exposure.