Spinning Fish

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We have a snorkeling trip planned for the Keys in a few weeks. Not sure about the safety of the water there right now. Any information on the situation would be greatly appreciated! Thanks! 🐠
We have a snorkeling trip planned for the Keys in a few weeks. Not sure about the safety of the water there right now. Any information on the situation would be greatly appreciated! Thanks! 🐠
I was in the lower Keys last Friday to Sunday. Snorkelled at Bahia park, north and south side, south of the old bridge and under the 7 mile bridge(w/ a flag). I did not see any fish that were struggling, spinning or being dead. I'm not sure what locations these fish are spinning/dying at but perhaps this is not happening all over. It's just that the media makes it sound as if it's happening everywhere in the Keys or even FL (and in large numbers).
Here’s an update from 2 days ago:

It’s not the media “exaggerating” things.

An inter-institutional research study to identify the cause of these symptoms began on January 11, 2024. Partners include Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, Lower Keys Guides Association, Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), University of South Alabama (USA), Florida International University, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI), Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FL DEP), and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

And then there’s this part, which you must not have read:
Symptomatic fish continue to be observed consistently and are more frequently observed at night. As of mid-March 2024, BTT and the Lower Keys Guides Association have received 182 reports of symptomatic fish, with almost all reports from inshore seagrass and flats systems. This stressor has affected forage fish, game fish, sharks and rays—and everything in between. Only two reports have been from the reef, Hawks Channel or shallow and deep gulf waters. The remainder have occurred in our inshore seagrass and flats systems. In mid-February, most of the reports occurred west of Big Pine Key and east of Sugarloaf Key, but have now expanded to the east and west.
It’s not the media “exaggerating” things.

And then there’s this part, which you must not have read:

A quick Google search returned the following: """ "As of March 2024, locals and scientists have identified the bizarre actions in at least 44 species, including the critically endangered smalltooth sawfish. Many fish have been washing up dead, though there's not a formal count, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission"."""

The media is not exaggerating? Hmm...right...

Well, I haven't been in the water at night to observe this, which supposedly is "more frequently observed at night" but I swam the entire length from Sansdspur beach to the northern part of Bahia park (all the way by the Ohio Bahia Honda channel bridge), and saw numerous schools of snappers, 2 smaller goliath groupers, filefish/trunkfish, lobsters/crabs, 1 stingray in shallow water, 2 morays, many conchs, some horse conchs, true tulip slugs, sea hares etc...(in general a lot of inverts which are usually affected by toxic water faster than the fish), none showed any of the symptoms "the media and these scientists" have been talking about.

I shot the video below 2 weeks ago(per the media, this is also happening in South FL sites as well) and also snorkelled last week in 4 different locations in the lower Keys. I dive South FL almost every month and the Keys every quarter(I was there Jan 6th and last weekend). This supposedly has been happening for several months.

It may be localized or it may be something that affects mostly the sawfish. I hope they find "the smoking gun"(as they say), but unless I dive/snorkel down there and observe that behavior, it's a little hard to believe that this is affecting so many species of fish and many are washing up dead (as the media claims).

I just read an article and saw a video about the spinning fish in the Keys. I posted earlier about seeing the same thing in my very large aquarium and it being a problem with their swim bladder. It is not the same thing. Fishes with swim bladder problems roll from side to side over and over again until they die from exhaustion.

The Keys fish are rolling every which way! Front to back, side to side and chasing their tails. It's so sad. I hope they figure it out and cure it soon.
Some recent news said they had not identified any toxins but the fish stopped when put in clean water.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection conducted a lot of analyses looking for different pollutants, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals and nothing showed up, Parsons said. A different kind of harmful algal bloom or neurotoxin could be at play, Parsons said, adding that the affected fish stopped spinning when they were placed in "clean" water. Researchers are essentially approaching the tests as a "needle in a haystack," he said.

Sad, hope they figure it out .. .and better yet find a way to put a stop to it.
The following video is from 3/16/24, from the North end of Bahia Honda State Park(several miles from Bogie channel/Big Pine Key which is an area where this fish behavior was observed, along with Bow channel by the Cudjoe Wastewater facility,where there was a spill during Hurricane Ian(from what I read online it was an intentional spill). No spinning fish or such behavior in the video.

INMO, this is probably 'mostly' localized but they make it sound as if it happens everywhere (and all the time) in the Keys / FL. It is a strange phenomenon, however, it may be just related to the Gambierdiscus algal bloom(nutrients from the sewage spill may have caused the algal bloom(?)) Gambierdiscus has toxins that cause or mimic cinguatera (again from what I read). My 2 cents.


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