Holmes Beach officials responding to fish floating in canals

HB Fish Canal
On Wednesday, the surface of the canal near Marina Drive and 63rd Street in Holmes Beach was littered with dead fish. - Joe Hendricks | Sun

HOLMES BEACH – Holmes Beach city officials are aware of the dead fish floating in some of Holmes Beach’s residential canals and they are working to rectify the situation.

One of the most visible instances is in the canal along Marina Drive, near 63rd Street.

On Friday, Nov. 23, outgoing Holmes Beach Mayor Bob Johnson said members of the city’s Public Works Department would be out in the city boat Saturday morning removing dead fish from canals. He said the fish removed would be placed in a designated dumpster and pick up by WastePro by noon on Saturday.

“We’re working on it. What we’ve been doing is picking these things up every couple days because they’ve been at different places at different times, depending on which way the wind blows. The other side of that is getting rid of the fish, so we have a dumpster service that we use. We don’t leave them in the dumpster overnight because that also causes problems,” Johnson said.

“They’re trying to keep up with it,” Police Chief Bill Tokajer later added.

Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy said he hadn’t received any reports of dead fish floating in Anna Maria’s canals. He said if he gets any reports of that nature he would reach out to the Cortez commercial fishermen who earlier this year assisted the city with its red tide-related shoreline cleanup efforts along South Bay Boulevard.

Captain’s concerns

On Thursday, Nov. 22, Holmes Beach resident and charter fishing captain Scott Moore suggested at his Facebook page that it would be smart for the city of Holmes Beach to remove the dead fish as soon as possible because that would benefit the Island’s residents and visitors. He also stated his view that it’s more environmentally sound to remove the fish quickly rather than allowing them to sink to the bottom and decompose.

When contacted Friday, Moore said, “Most of them are mullet, it’s a shame. As soon as those fish pop up, they need to get them. They shouldn’t wait until they’re half-rotted because once they start to decay and rot that puts nutrients back in the water that can help regenerate red tide.”

Moore said these views were shaped in part by scientific opinions cited at a meeting he attended after the red tide blooms began appearing near Anna Maria Island in early August.

“Hopefully they can clean that up because it’s hard on the tourism. I’m not complaining about Holmes Beach, I know they’re limited. A month ago, Holmes Beach workers came down and cleaned up my canal,” Moore said.

Moore said he was also aware of dead fish floating in other nearby residential canals, including canals in Key Royale and Seaside Gardens.

On a more positive note, Moore said the water on the Gulf side looked good.

“The beach is beautiful. The water at 28th Street is beautiful. It’s only on the bay side, and some in Palma Sola too. I caught a lot of fish in the river near Terra Ceia this week. The water there was good,” Moore said.

Social media commentary

On Wednesday, Nov. 21, Anna Maria resident Cheri Sackett initiated a Facebook conversation that started with her post that said, “The canal by 63rd St. is littered with dead fish again.”

HB Fish Facebook 1128 S
On Wednesday, Anna Maria resident Cheri Sackett posted this on her Facebook page, which then generated responses from several other users. – Facebook | Submitted

Facebook user Rich Bell noted this is something Island visitors would notice when visiting or passing through Holmes Beach.

“Go net the canal,” he suggested.

Brett Nance posted a response that said he cruised in his boat and spotted several large dead fish floating in the canals and by the Kingfish Boat Ramp too.

A few Facebook users commented on how the lingering red tide is affecting their respiratory health and the unpleasant smell it created at times.

According the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website, the red tide levels offshore of Manatee County between Nov. 15 and Nov. 21 remained within 5 percent (positive or negative) of the levels recorded the previous week.


Patchy red tide forecast at high levels