Biscayne Bay is dying without oxygen: ‘We need rapid intervention’

MIAMI – Marine life continues to die Friday in Biscayne Bay.

Todd Crowl, the director of Florida International University Institute of Environment, said Friday data showed the dissolved-oxygen concentrations were at zero on Thursday night.

Crowl said this is amid rising temperatures, as the water temperature is close to 90 degrees. And with more rain, comes the toxic stormwater runoff.

“As long as temperatures keep rising, as long as we continue to have sources of ... pollutants like through septic systems and stuff, yeah is going ... to keep happening,” Crowl said.

Environmentalists fear Biscayne Bay could be in the process of becoming a dead zone if the situation continues. Miami Waterkeeper, an environmental group, has also been warning officials that the bay is at a critical tipping point.

“We are seeing what are likely unprecedented levels of low oxygen in Biscayne Bay over a really wide area, so big that the fish can’t swim away from it before they are suffocating and dying,” said Rachel Silverstein, the director of Miami Waterkeeper.

For some at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, it was too painful to watch marine life suffering and dying. They are doing what they can to set up air stations to save hundreds of stingrays.

“It was a busy day but we were able to install a few submersed air lines in order to provide some much needed additional oxygen to this small section of #BiscayneBay at Pelican Harbor,” a museum spokesperson wrote on Twitter.

Crowl said this is by no means a solution and more needs to be done.

“The idea that we are trying to talk about treating an entire bay like we would treat an aquarium in our house ... it’s nothing I have ever seen,” Crowl said.

Crowl, Silverstein and other scientists are still collecting data and investigating water quality. They all share a feeling of urgency.

“Biscayne Bay is dying,” Silverstein said. “We are really hoping that this does not become the new normal for Biscayne Bay and we need rapid intervention to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

The Fish & Wildlife Conservation is working on relocating some marine life to the southern part of the bay.

About the Author:

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