'Fish kill' washes dead wildlife ashore in Texas coastal communities

Kevin Roth Image
Thursday, February 25, 2021
'Fish kill' washes dead wildlife on Texas coastal shores
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We've gone through the initial impacts of this catastrophic winter storm. Now, experts are finding secondary damage which includes the fatal impact on our wildlife.

A historic cold air outbreak brought more than just burst pipes and power outages to Texas, it also brought a significant fish kill to the Gulf Coast.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is asking residents to report areas that they see large fish kills in.

They said because of the extremely low water temperatures, many fish have died and have a chance of resurfacing on the shoreline.

Experts said that water temperatures that plummeted to 40 degrees in Galveston Bay resulted in lasting problems for fish, crabs, turtles, and other marine life.

Fish mortalities were found in six bay systems including Matagorda Bay, San Antonio Bay, Aransas Bay, Corpus Christi Bay, Upper Laguna Madre, and Lower Laguna Madre, according to TPWD.

Game wardens reported seeing red and black drum in addition to sheepshead in the Keith Lake system of Sabine Lake.

In the Galveston Bay area, fish kills were reported over a three to five mile stretch of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway near Christmas Bay, and a nine mile stretch of the waterway from Swan Lake to Bastrop Bay. Dead mullet were seen in canals at Tiki Island and Jamaica Beach, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife authorities.

ABC13 viewer Keith Rodgers sent in numerous photos of large speckled trout washed up along the beaches of Matagorda Bay.

Just after the storm in South Padre Island, volunteers rescued 1,500 sea turtles from the frigid waters cold enough to stun and drown the turtles.

SEE ALSO: Thousands of 'cold-stunned' sea turtles rescued from Texas coast amid record-breaking deep freeze

Hundreds of those turtles were later released back into the Gulf.

Beyond the primary impacts of this disaster, the secondary and tertiary impacts could cause lasting damage to our marine ecosystem and, ultimately, to the economy of our coastal communities.

Biologists will continue to survey the areas to find out how the winter storm and historically cold temperatures impacted fish species, authorities said.

If you have noticed any changes in the marine life in our coastal communities, you can contact Texas Parks & Wildlife Department at (512) 389-4848. Biologists said they also plan to survey recreational anglers at boat ramps about fish kills during their regular year-round survey efforts.

The video above is from previous reporting.