Stingrays desperate for oxygen part of critical tipping point at Biscayne Bay

MIAMI, Fla. – Stingrays that were seen gathered and gasping for breath on Wednesday in Biscayne Bay were given oxygen on Thursday by scientists from the Frost Science Museum who saw video of what was going on and knew that they had to act fast.

The urgent rescue operation was at Pelican Harbor Marine Seabird Station where sting rays and fish have aggregated for the past few days desperate for oxygen.

Vice president of Marine Conservation at the Frost Science Museum Andy Dehart said that seagrass in Biscayne Bay has been disappearing because of pollution and other toxins affecting the water.

"With the seagrass beds dying off, now we've come to a situation where we don't have those grasses to supplement during the really hot periods," Dehart told Local 10.

One idea could be relocating the distressed rays to the ocean where oxygen is more plentiful, but scientists agreed it would be too traumatic.

Dehart said that while moving the animals to the ocean area where oxygen was more plentiful, it would disrupt the rays.

Meanwhile, dire news from the research team from The Institute of Environment at Florida International Unversity, who are now reporting that the fish kill is more widespread in Biscayne Bay than originally thought.

Piero Gardinali, associated professor at the Institute, said: “I have never seen such a widespread effect in the Bay. It is most likely an oxygen event driven by a combination of different things we’re doing wrong.”

Witnesses reported thousands of dead fish washed ashore as far north as 135th Street in North Miami and as far south as Miami’s Museum Park area.

“It’s an emergency. The Bay is not in a good place right now,” said Gardinali, associate professor at FIU. “It’s a warning sign.”

Results of water testing and data that have been gathered over the last 48 hours is expected to be returned soon to help provide some clue as to what has caused such massive destruction of marine life in the bay.


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About the Author:

Louis Aguirre is an Emmy-award winning journalist who anchors weekday newscasts and serves as WPLG Local 10’s Environmental Advocate.