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City provides daily update on fish kills, beach conditions

By Staff | Aug 2, 2018

PHOTO PROVIDED The city of Sanibel's crews cleaning canals.

The city of Sanibel continues the collection and removal of dead sea life that began on July 28.

First break of day reports indicate dead sea life deposits today are greater in volume than on Aug. 1, according to officials. Today’s hardest hit area reported thus far is between Donax Street to Lighthouse Beach on the Gulf side. On Aug. 1, the city removed a total of 22 large carcasses from the island’s shores – 20 goliath grouper and two tarpon – and thousands of smaller dead sea life.

Today, the city has again substantially increased the contractual labor and equipment allocated to the beach clean-up task. The city has four flats boats in the canals cleaning dead sea life. Additionally, extra contract labor is on the shore of the canals also removing dead sea life. The city has begun in the canals with the greatest impact. One of the more challenging tasks this morning is the removal of nine additional dead goliath groupers from the bayside in areas difficult to access.

Under the direction of the Sanibel Department of Public Works, the city has three basic operations underway to remove dead sea life from the island:

– Beach clean-up

PHOTO PROVIDED The city of Sanibel's crews cleaning canals.

– Canal clean-up and waterside removal

“Rapid Response Team” primarily addressing large carcasses

Early today, additional contractual labor crews arrived and will continue to work on the beach in the five designated zones with a city employee to monitor and direct around sea turtle nests and such.

In addition to more contractual labor today, the following additional equipment has been added:

– Seven UTVs

– Additional boat

– One additional wheel loader

– Two additional work teams will begin at Lighthouse and work the poor condition area between Donax and the Lighthouse

One additional work team will begin at Donax and work toward the Lighthouse, officials reported. One additional work team will begin at Rabbit Road and work toward Tarpon Bay, and one additional work team to begin at Gulf Pines Drive and work toward Rabbit Road.

The Sanibel Boat Ramp has been prepared as the staging area for the canal and water-borne clean-up operations. The current plan is to bring all dead sea life back to the Public Works yard for hauling off-island by Advanced Disposal. Advanced Disposal deployed additional dumpsters to Public Works for debris disposal. At this time, public access to the boat ramp is permitted.

In addition to city employees and Crowder-Gulf – the city’s hurricane debris removal contractor – the city has also deployed local landscapers, previously under contract with the city, to assist with the removal of the dead fish.

Large carcasses inventory for Aug. 1:

– Goliath grouper: 20

One at 250 pounds

Three at 200 pounds

Nine at 80-100 pounds

Four at 50 pounds

Three at 40 pounds

– Tarpon: 2

One at 150 pounds

One at 100 pounds

Today’s first light of day report from Public Works staff is as follows:

– Lighthouse Beach

Current Conditions: Poor

Red Tide: Present

Odor: Strong

Deposits: Approximately 20 to 60 dead sea life every 10 feet

– Sanibel Boat Ramp

Current Conditions: Fair to poor

Red Tide: Present

Odor: Yes

Deposits: More than 200 dead fish floating at boat ramp

– Algiers Beach (Gulfside City Park)

Current Conditions: Fair to poor

Red Tide: Present

Odor: Present

Deposits: Approximately 25 dead sea life every 10 feet

– Tarpon Bay Beach

Current Conditions: Fair

Red Tide: Moderate presence

Odor: Present

Deposits: Approximately 10 dead sea life every 10 feet

– Bowman’s Beach

Current Conditions: Fair

Red Tide: Heavy presence

Odor: Present

Deposits: Approximately 15 dead sea life every 10 feet

– Blind Pass

Current Conditions: Moderate

Red Tide: Moderate presence

Odor: Present

Deposits: Approximately five dead sea life every 10 feet

– Turner Beach Park

Current Conditions: Good to excellent

Red Tide: Not present

Odor: None

Deposits: NoneZero deposits of dead fish present

Based on tides, winds and currents, the conditions may alter quickly and significantly.

If you encounter any dead sea life washed ashore on private property that is too large to be removed by hand, email address and location to j.zimomra@mysanibel.com and attach a photo if possible.

The city of Sanibel Departments of Public Works, Natural Resources and Administration will also be working on the clean-up. The Public Works phones at 239-472-6397 will be staffed on Aug. 4-5 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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. Beach-goers should also avoid stepping on dead catfish as some sharp barbs can even penetrate the sole of a shoe.