Residents React to Fish Kill in Panama City

Courtesy: Susanna Russell

PANAMA CITY-- Stan Jones, the Director of the Panama City Marina, says he's seen a lot of dead fish in St. Andrews Bay lately. That is, everything from small Pinfish to huge Flounder, Red Fish, and Mullet as a result of red tide.

"It can affect marine life," Bekah Nelson, on behalf of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), said. "You know, there's obviously fish kills that can happen from the neurotoxins."

While symptoms for us are usually minor, red tide can still be a nuisance.

"It can cause skin irritation if people are in the water and also it can cause respiratory irritation as well," Nelson explained.

"Once I'm here for a couple of hours, I taste it in my mouth and you definitely feel it's like an irritant in your lungs," Jones described. "I feel like I'm a healthy guy and I can tell there's something going on."

Even the birds aren't happy.

"I've never seen so many seagulls in my life congregated here," Jones said. "You see them swoop down, pick up a fish, fly a little ways, and drop it."

Many people say this fish kill from from red tide is the worst they've seen it away from the Gulf, including the legendary Red Holland, who lives in the area.

"I can't even pronounce the scientific name for it, but it's the first time we've experienced this red tide right there in the downtown city marina," he said.

"Hopefully this towards the end of this bloom, but you know, the bay will recover just like the Gulf of Mexico," Jones said.

The FWC says the toxin may get into the guts of the fish. If you catch fish during red tide, it's okay to eat if the fish is filleted.

If you notice a fish kill in your area, you're asked to contact the FWC Fish Kill hotline: 800-636-0511.