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PURRE reports on dead crabs

By Staff | Oct 8, 2009

To the editor,

For the last couple of days, I have noticed an abundance of dead calico crabs and flame crabs on the beach. In addition I have seen a couple of dead batfish, some eels and flounder.

I asked Rob Loflin, the Director of Natural Resources for the City of Sanibel, about this and wanted to pass along his response since some of you have asked about it.

Here is Rob’s response:

“There is a thin band (less than 75 feet wide at its widest) of olive green water that indicates an algae bloom and the presence of dead organisms along the shore between [Sanibel] Beach Access 1 west to Gulf Ridge subdivision. Most consist of dead crabs, mainly the intricately marked deep water calico crab, with some small batfish scattered in.

“The worst section is near Gulf Pines/Gulf Shores with several dead crabs per foot of beach. There are no dead crabs or fish at either the east or west ends of the island at this time although that same band of discolored water can be seen about 150 feet offshore at Blind Pass and Bowman’s Beach.

“We had the water with algae sampled and the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation lab confirmed that it contained the non-toxic algae Guinardia flaccida, the same algae observed alongshore both St. Petersburg Beach and Collier County recently and which caused a fish kill on Naples Beach Sept. 22-25.

“Since the fish and crab kill is attributed to low dissolved oxygen associated with the bloom, there are no other toxic affects to marine life or humans associated with this event and we fully expect that birds, fish and shore crabs will eat the dead organisms in a rapid fashion. No clean-up efforts are recommended at this time. We will keep you posted if conditions change.”

Dan Wexler

PURRE Public Policy Director