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Major fish kill in Indian River Lagoon

involves15 different species of fish

Dead fish discovered in Brevard,  (Photo: Justin Vaden)
Dead fish discovered in Brevard, (Photo: Justin Vaden)

TITUSVILLE, Fla. – News 6 partner Florida Today is checking out reports of a major fish kill in the Indian River Lagoon, involving some 15 different species of fish and stretching from Titusville to the Pineda Causeway area. The report says the fish floated around the area of the no-motor zone of the Merritt Island Refuge to SR 520.

Alex Gorichky, a charter captain who has been fishing in Brevard County his entire life, said he's seen a variety of dead fish in the lagoon.

"We've seen everything now from several different types of bait fish, all the different types of puffer fish that we have in the lagoon, which is three different types, we have black drum, redfish, we have seen snook, sea trout ... sheepshead ... a bunch of catfish," said Gorichky.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission's website, 100 puffer and sheepshead fish were reported dead at Watts Park on Merritt Island Friday

A strong smell that could be associated with dead fish was present at the Ulumay Wildlife Sanctuary Friday evening.

Gorichky said that he initially saw dead fish in the area of Sykes Creek and Newfound Harbor Drive on Merritt Island. He's worried about the connection between the fish kill and the recent rash of brown tide that has swept through the lagoons.

"I've now seen pictures of world-class fish dead. That's a big issue with me," Gorichky said. "It's obviously horrific. I don't know if you could put a price on it."

"This is where I call my home. I chose to live here for my children so they could experience the water, and this is not what we need to leave behind," Gorichky added.

Gorichky said that typically any of our "lesser water conditions" happen in the summer and that that's generally when they see fish kills of this nature occur.

He added that he's seen similar fish kills before and it angers him to see it continually happening.

"At this point, beyond sad, I'm angry that it's come to this point and even still to this day very little, if any, action is actually being taken by our elected officials (from) local, state and federal," said Gorichky. "I would have to say above and beyond the facts that obviously that my business is in potential trouble unless I make serious changes in the way I operate, above and beyond the fact I was born and raised on these lagoons."

Brown tide returned to the Indian River Lagoon in January after it first bloomed in 2012.

In November 2014, News 6 partner Florida Today reported catfish, flounder, mullet, sailor's choice, pinfish, red drum, sheepshead and trout were all part of hundreds of dead fish in Merritt Island canals.

Those who spot fish kills can either report it online to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's website at myfwc.com/FishKill or they can call 800-636-0511.