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Waves of fish mortalities attributed to cold weather

dead fish .jpg
Posted at 5:43 PM, Feb 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-19 18:43:57-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The big freeze didn't solely impact the local sea turtle populations.

On Monday night, Feb. 15, 2021, viewer Neesy Tompkins was out on the shores of Port Aransas, looking out for cold-stunned sea turtles struggling with the cold weather that hit the state this week. While she was there, she stumbled across waves of dead fish, and shot some video of the scene.

Friday, we reached out to Texas Parks and Wildlife for more information on the influx of fish mortality in the area. Kirk McDonnell with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Press Office said that these are initial updates, and they expect to have more information in the coming week.

Fish mortalities were initially reported on Valentine's Day (Feb. 14, 2021). Because of the stress on their current resources, the "quantification of impacts to fish is still ongoing."

Their first assessments state that less than ten species of fish were impacted along the Gulf Coast because of the cold weather - the majority of which are non-recreational species.

The non-recreational fish species include pinfish, spot, silver perch, gulf menhaden, mullet and other forging fish. Fish usually caught for recreation that have been impacted include spotted seatrout, sheepshead, grey snapper, snook, and tarpon.

McDonnell said that proportionally, these species counted for "less than 10% of the total mortality event."

Six bay systems have been hit by the big freeze in this way: Matagorda Bay, San Antonio Bay, Aransas Bay, Corpus Christi Bay, Upper Laguna Madre, and Lower Laguna Madre.

Texas Parks and Wildlife does not have reports from the Gulf beaches, but have discovered so far that a majority of the kills were located along the southern shores in undeveloped areas such as the back sides of the barrier islands (Ex. Pringle Lakes of Matagorda Island).