Monday, December 11, 2023

Massive Fish Mortality: Tens of Thousands Found Stranded on Texas Beach Amid Low Oxygen Levels

 Massive Fish Mortality: Tens of Thousands Found Stranded on Texas Beach Amid Low Oxygen Levels

Over the weekend, tens of thousands of deceased fish washed ashore along the Texas Gulf Coast, creating a shoreline littered with decaying carcasses and prompting local authorities to advise against visitation.

Tens of Thousands of Dead Fish wash up on a Texas Beach due to Low Oxygen Levels

On Friday, waves from the Gulf of Mexico carried in vast numbers of dead fish, creating a grim spectacle in Brazoria County, located over 40 miles south of Houston, according to officials at Quintana Beach County Park.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department attributed the mass fish mortality to low levels of dissolved oxygen in the water, a condition making it challenging for the fish to breathe. Termed a "fish kill," such incidents are common during the summer when temperatures rise, the state department noted.

Although no direct link to climate change has been established in this particular occurrence, researchers caution that fish kills may become more frequent with rising temperatures and decreasing oxygen levels in lakes across the United States and Europe.

Dissolved oxygen levels in water typically rise through photosynthesis, a process where plants convert sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into oxygen. When there is less sunlight, as occurs at night, photosynthesis slows or halts, while the consumption of oxygen by aquatic plants and animals continues unabated, leading to a reduction in oxygen concentration, as explained by Texas Park and Wildlife officials.

The Gulf menhaden, commonly used as bait by fishermen, was the species most severely impacted by this fish kill, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife.

By Sunday evening, efforts had largely cleared Quintana Beach of the deceased fish, with only some remaining that machinery couldn't remove, according to county officials.

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