Scientists believe fish kill in Stuart is result of wet weather

STUART, Fla. - Scientists say the recent wet weather can be blamed for a fish kill in Stuart.

A Stuart boater captured video of dozens of dead armored catfish at the Stuart Sandbar this week.

The non-native species thrives in fresh water, particularly near Lake Okeechobee or in canals. Salt water is deadly to the species.

Mark Perry with Florida Oceanographic said it is likely the fish traveled further east with the recent fresh water flows, bringing them closer to the ocean’s salty water.

“When they hit the little bit of salt water that we had it killed them,” said boater David Preston.

He said he pulled up to the sandbar this week and immediately noticed something strange.

“You know, I could see all these, they looked just like black things on the beach,” Preston said. He captured a video showing dozens of dead fish, washed up on the sand.

“Horror. I mean, here we go. It's the beginning of summer, and we’ve got dark, dirty water and a fish kill. So, I’m like, 'OK, here we go. It’s another lost summer,'” Preston said.

The water appears darker, and more rain is on the way.

Preston is worried Lake Okeechobee releases will also be in the mix in the near future, adding more fresh water into the mix, and more harm to marine life and vegetation.

‘The lake is going up and up and up,” Preston said. “We can only keep our fingers crossed that eventually there will be a solution,” Preston said.

Perry also said the massive increase in fresh water can get other freshwater animals on the move, such as alligators. He said he would not be surprised to see them show up in typically brackish, or saltwater areas that are now diluted, such as the sandbar or beaches.

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