HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Low to moderate fish kills happening in the Withlacoochee River are being blamed on flooding from Hurricane Irma.
The Hernando County Waterways Department says the fish kills are a result of lower dissolved oxygen levels caused by the flooding.
When the water level reaches flood stage, organic matter from swamps and wetlands disperse, which causes the dissolved oxygen levels to decrease. Oxygen is also being consumed by the decomposition of leaves, tannins, muck and woody debris, which reduces the concentration of oxygen that fish need to survive. The natural process is heightened by warm temperatures, the county says.
County officials are warning residents nearby that fish kills can increase the bacteria levels in floodwaters. They urge everyone to wear waders or rubber boots when walking through the water.