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City conducting fish kill cleanups along beaches island-wide

By Staff | Jul 30, 2018

City Manager Judie Zimomra

As of July 28, the city of Sanibel began collecting and removing dead sea life from the beaches due to the unprecedented volume of dead sea life currently washing up on the shores of Sanibel.

In addition to city crews, city staff is being augmented with contractual labor. Furthermore, officials issued a “notice to proceed” to the city’s debris removal company, currently under contract, to mobilize.

As of today, no island beaches have been closed nor any public advisories issued.

“The (Lee County) Health Department is responsible for any such advisories,” City Manager Judie Zimomra said. “At this time, none have been issued to our knowledge.”

The city is collecting dead sea life from both the Gulf and bay sides. The city is also finalizing a plan with its contractor to remove dead sea life from the canals where dead fish have also accumulated.

Currently, city crews are collecting the entire length of the beaches.

According to a report today from the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium’s Beach Conditions Reporting System, “heavy” fish kills have been observed at Lighthouse Beach, Bowman’s Beach and the Causeway Islands for Sanibel, with “some” fish kills having been observed on Captiva.

In terms of respiratory irritation, a level of “none” has been reported on Lighthouse Beach and Bowman’s Beach, while “sight” irritation has been reported on the Causeway Islands and Captiva.

Due to the frequency, magnitude and volume of the current deposits, private property owners on Sanibel may collect dead fish from the beaches. Dead sea life can be doubled bagged and placed into the owners’ commercial dumpster. For sea life on private property that is too large to be removed by hand, email j.zimomra@mysanibel.com. If possible, include a photo and an address in the email.

A large portion of the dead fish on the beach are catfish. The pectoral (side) fins and dorsal (top) fin contain sharp venomous spines; extreme care should be used when handling the fish. Beachgoers should also avoid stepping on dead catfish as some sharp barbs can even penetrate the sole of a shoe.

Zimomra noted that staff is putting forth its best efforts to accomplish the task. The tides, changing currents and new deposits which are left immediately following a clean-up pass makes a hot, tedious and odoriferous task even more challenging.