St. Bernard Parish president reports up to 15,000 dead fish floating near boom — “Oil in the area”; State officials say


State authorities say fish kill in St. Bernard Parish waters likely caused by low oxygen levels, Times Picayune, August 23, 2010:

The fish were found Sunday afternoon, floating near boom that had been deployed in the area to catch oil from the BP oil leak, and washed up on the shoreline, St. Bernard Parish government said in a news release.

“Different species were found dead including crabs, sting rays, eel, drum, speckled trout, red fish, you name it, included in that kill,” St. Bernard Parish President Craig Taffaro said.

Taffaro said there was oil in the area

[Also] a thick, orange substance with tar balls and a “strong diesel smell” was located Monday morning around Grassy Island, the news release said. Skimmers were dispatched to the area.

Large fish kill found at mouth of Mississippi River Gulf outlet, CNN, August 23, 2010:

[T]he president of St. Bernard Parish in Louisiana [said] “I’m talking about 5,000 to 15,000 dead fish,” Craig Taffaro said of the Sunday discovery…

According to Taffaro, there is some “recoverable oil” in the area but there also have been “oxygen issues,” so officials don’t know yet if the fish kill is related to the BP oil spill. Officials from the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Department are investigating.

St. Bernard reports fish kill at mouth of MRGO, New Orleans City Business, August 23, 2010:

Authorities in St. Bernard Parish report a large fish kill was found Sunday afternoon at the mouth of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet. Thousands of dead fish were found floating on top of the water, collected in boom and washed up on the shoreline….

St. Bernard Parish President Craig Taffaro… said oil from the Deepwater Horizon leak was believed to have been in the area as well, but he stopped short of blaming it for the fish kill. …

St. Bernard Parish Government also reported a half-mile long orange thick substance with several tar balls and a strong diesel smell was located this morning around Grassy Island. Skimmers were sent to recover the substance.

The Times Picayune reports that state officials say the massive fish kill does not appear to be directlyrelated to oil from the BP leak, “Randy Pausina, head fisheries biologist for the state, said Department of Wildlife and Fisheries workers are investigating the fish kill and that the initial conclusion is that it was caused by low levels of oxygen in the water.” …

Editor’s Note:

The LA Times adds the the following update:

On Monday evening, St. Bernard Parish oil disaster information officer, Jennifer Belson, said that preliminary testing by the state’s Wildife & Fisheries indicated that the cause of the fish kill was “hypoxia” or lack of oxygen. “But we don’t have the final testing back,” she said. Hypoxia is most often caused by an excess of nitrogen and phosphorus from agricultural fertilizer or human waste, but it can also be caused by chemical dispersants, which were used extensively after the oil spill.

Ralph Portier, an environmental scientist at Louisiana State University, cautioned in an interview that, “A lot of things can explain a fish kill, which is not uncommon during the hot summer weather in Louisiana. It could be the nutrient-rich environment with a lot of heat. It could be rainfall. It could be changes in salinity or upwelling from disturbed sediment.”

But he said he could not rule out that the fish kill could be related to the oil spill. Fresh water, which has been diverted into the marshes since the spill, can change salinity levels and affect fish, he noted. The fish kill announcement, he said, “goes to show how sensitive the (oil spill) issue is. You can imagine the angst of a lot of people in the sea food industry when they hear about a fish kill now.”


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