Fish with lesion concerns environmentalists

Caught in Bessey Creek near St. Lucie River

STUART, Fla. - A picture of a sheepshead with a large pink lesion on it has the attention of scientists and environmentalists.

The sheepshead was caught over the weekend in Bessey Creek, in Palm City, just south of the C-23 canal.

Mark Perry with the Florida Oceanographic Society says it's likely the tumor formed when something in the water chemistry affected the fish's skin.

They've caught these fish with lesions before and it's pretty much an indicator that something is going on," said Perry.

When fisherman Jeff Eubank saw the photo, he was saddened, but not surprised.

"It's sad because this summer, the fish just aren't here any more. You might get lucky, but it's not like it was," said Eubank.

Mark Perry said there have been eight incidents in the last three decades where 33 different species of fish have turned up with lesions. Most of the them are connected to the freshwater discharges from Lake Okeechobee during the summer.

Environmentalists like Perry say if you see any fish that have suspected lesions, take a picture if possible so they can compile a list and see if there is some sort of pattern.

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