Fish started dying Thursday in Coral Bay, and it’s raising a lot of questions. So far, no one has any answers.
“Is it tied to the sargassum?” Alan Mohler, who owns Coral Bay Marine, questioned Friday as he pointed out dead fish lying on the harbor floor, in the mangroves and in the sargassum weed along the shore.
At 1:30 p.m. Friday, the tide had cleared away many of the fish that Mohler said were piled up in the morning, but there were still plenty to see.
“This place was covered with eels,” he said.
In addition to the dead fish, which haven’t started to smell yet, the sargassum is inches deep along the shore. The stench is strong, and could be smelled for most of the week at least a mile away at Ajax Peak.
According to Mohler, a couple of other unusual things are happening in Coral Bay. For starters, the tide is unusually high. The water comes right up to the edge of the concrete dock. Mohler said the tide is usually the highest in November, not October.
And, he said, pointing skyward, the presence of frigate birds flying along the shore is very unusual.
The fact that fish are dying in Coral Bay was news to Ruth Gomez, the director of the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources Fish and Wildlife Division. However, she said she planned to head out to Coral Bay over the weekend to see for herself.
DPNR’s Kent Bernier serves on the multi-department sargassum task force. He too said he wasn’t aware that fish were dying, but like Gomez, planned to investigate.