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Red Tide Dead Fish and Jesus PAGE


By Fishin’ Frank Water LIFE Baitshop The story about Jesus turning the water into wine and feeding the multitudes with tons of fish may not be such a far flung account. As we know, Red Tide will (or could) cause the water to appear red, and it really dose not poison the fish, so red water and fish floating to the surface.... Hey that’s not what I want for dinner, but if I was hungry to the point of starving? Those fish might look pretty tasty to me. There are different types of fish kills in our Harbor so the first thing you want to do is see what type or types of fish are dead. Nature rarely kills only one type of fish – that said, a few years ago we had a massive over population of cat-fish. Then a virus that only killed cat-fish took hold and killed thousands of catfish in a few weeks, the exact nature of that virus is still not known. There is another fish kill which causes hundreds, or maybe thousands of dead mullet (more to the point, dead male mullet) and that is the price of mullet roe. The females have eggs. Fish eggs = caviar. Caviar = $$. Females are worth more than 5 times what the male is worth. Males being worth maybe 20 cents a pound. But a male is not full of eggs. So while for many years the white roe (or male mullet ejaculate) was prized as an aphrodisiac by orientals, once Viagra came out there was no more money in mullet sperm. During ‘run season’ it is common to see vast numbers of dead male mullet. The fisherman gets them up in the net and before putting them on ice they squeeze the belly a little. If it comes out orange "red roe" it brings a good price so on ice it goes, if it is white roe-sperm they toss it back in the water.



Late last month the Harbor north of Marker No.1 was littered with dead fish. The FWC reported Red Tide along the Gulf from Fort Myers north.

Another fish killer is freezing water. Salt water is more deadly to fish than fresh water. Fresh water only gets to 32 degrees then it turns to ice, keeping the water below it at 33 degrees or higher. Salt water can get down to 28 degrees easy, and not many fish can survive that. Another killer weather phenomena is heat. Hot water does not hold oxygen and during the summer months if the wind becomes very calm, there are no waves and it has been found that the water can have no oxygen in it for periods of about 15 minutes at a time. This does not sound too bad 5, 10, 15 minutes. How long can you hold your breath? Red Tide is the biggest problem we have when it comes to losing fish. Funny though, Red Tide rarely hits the Upper Harbor, but last month’s appearance in the Upper Harbor was not really a surprise. With all of the rain we have had it is a wonder we were have not been covered up with Red Tide for last few months. All we can do at this point is hope it goes away quickly. Red Tide as you know is an algae that when it blooms causes fish to suffocate. It really is not a poison that kills the fish like arsenic but rather it’s more similar to ragweed in the sense that the spoors (pollen)

when inhaled paralyzes the gills of the fish, allowing no oxygen to their blood. Red tide is rare in the upper Harbor "north of Cape Haze up to port Charlotte, as the Harbor is fed at the north end by two rivers. Massive amounts of fresh water coming down the rivers should keep us safe most of the time from Red Tide, however nitrates from phosphates and animal waste in the water are what Red Tide likes to feed on. Right now here in the Harbor a very unusual thing has occurred, a Red Tide has started in the Harbor itself. I do not think it came in with the tide. The rains have stopped and the rivers are very low which happens in the winter months, this means we lose our protection and that is what's happening now. There is little or no fresh water coming down the river, the wind had been from the South east to west and the tides have brought in much needed salt water ... which should have got our winter time fishing off to a grand start. What that did was allow the Red Tide to grow and bloom. Perfect water temperature and a perfect storm of conditions all which had to come to together at just the wrong time and then Bang! Fish kill in the upper Harbor. Lucky for us a little rain has been falling up river and the


winds have switched to the North east, so the out going tide will send fresh water into the Harbor from our rivers, killing any Red Tide in its tracks and the north east winds will blow the algae out of the Harbor. Then, if the winds are steady enough, in two or three days the wind will move it off into the Gulf. The bottom line on this is that while people did not create Red tide, I believe we effect it, fertilizing our yards and fields, not keeping our septic tanks up to standard, it is not what one of us does it is what hundreds or thousands of people all do, adding a little to the total dose. Any way, December is normally a great month for snook and even if the fish kill was Red Tide there are no signs that it was bad enough to hurt the larger snook or redfish. So enjoy your Holiday month fishing. Frank@Fishin’ 625-3888

Do jellyfish grow in area canals?

Last month, from a Port Charlotte canal at the top of the Harbor, baseball sized globs of tiny translucent droplets, drifted out, one after the other, for almost one whole tide. When we tried to pick them up they come apart into hundreds of little ʻblobs.ʼ Sea Grant agent Betty Staugler looked at these pictures and said: “Hard to tell for sure, but my guess would be ctenophores (comb jellies). “ If thatʼs the case, we will have an abundance of them.

Profile for Water LIFE magazine

Water LIFE Dec 2013  

Fishing, boating and other water related subjects in the pristine environs of Charlotte Harbor Florida and the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Pres...

Water LIFE Dec 2013  

Fishing, boating and other water related subjects in the pristine environs of Charlotte Harbor Florida and the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Pres...

Profile for waterlife