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Texas Gulf Coast Fish Kill: What Caused Thousands of Fish to Suddenly Die?

texas fish kill

Since first being reported on June 9th, Texas Parks and Wildlife (TP&W) has reported thousands of dead fish (mostly menhaden) washing up Texas Gulf Coast beaches. TP&W has now confirmed that the cause is low dissolved oxygen in the waters along their coast. Such incidents occur particularly during summer and are common as rising temperatures can deplete oxygen in water.

What Causes Low Oxygen Levels

Fluctuations in dissolved oxygen levels often occur naturally and daily changes are tied to processes such as photosynthesis and aerobic respiration. During the day, photosynthesis, fueled by sunlight, increases oxygen in the water. At night, or on overcast days, photosynthesis decreases, further reducing oxygen concentrations in the water. Prior to a kill event, fish can often be seen struggling and gasping at the water’s surface early in the morning or lying idle at the water’s bottom or edge.

Recent water sample analysis from the Intracoastal Canal and near the Brazos River along the Texas coast showed nearly zero dissolved oxygen levels. The cause looks to be natural as there are no signs of a chemical spill or any other unnatural incident found.

Officials described the event as “the perfect storm to deplete the oxygen levels inshore”.

Video Shows the Impact of this Fish Kill Event

Officials believe that the fish kill event is almost over and recommend waiting a few days to make sure conditions are good before visiting the beach. You can check current beach conditions here or by calling 979-233-1461.

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