Hundreds of dead fish lined the Southern beaches of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye this morning. The fish were seen floating above beds of sargassum. Some reports identify the fish as Grunts, Sprat and juvenile Permit fish. In pictures that surfaced on social media, residents are seen with their buckets picking fish along the beach. It is still unclear whether the situation is being experienced along the entire coast of the island, but it has raised some serious concern among residents of the island. In early April of this year, Love News spoke with Marine Biologist on San Pedro Ambergris Caye, Miguel Alamilla. In his interview then, he explained that fish kill is one of the impacts of the increased accumulation of sargassum along beaches.
Marine Biologist of San Pedro Caye Miguel Alamilla: The sea grass itself is not poisonous but you have certain animals that grow, epiphytic animals that grow on the sea grass like hydroids that have stinging cells and can sting tourists but generally the greatest nuisance is the seagrass coming into shore. It’s not only nuisance to the tourist but it creates an environment where it can kill organisms and plants. You know it covers the nearshore seagrass and there is no life penetrating so the seagrass in those areas will probably die and we experience that across here. We saw huge areas of seagrass and turtle grass that just died because of the seagrass covering it. It is now life penetrating as we have also recorded several fish kills along the coast line.
Alamilla explained that the fish are starved for air in a process called eutrophication. What happens is that microorganisms decomposing the algae on the seaweed consumes all the oxygen in the water causing fish in the affected area to die. A similar situation was reported on the island in early May, when large numbers of fish were found dying at the Boca del Rio beach, north of San Pedro Town. At that time, the fish were identified as Puffer, Needle Nose, Permit, large Bonefish and Sardines. According to some reports, the Belize Fisheries Department personnel visited the area and collected some of the fish for testing.