COCONUT GROVE, Fla. – There is a great deal of mystery surrounding what may be killing koi fish and other wildlife in Coconut Grove.
Lee Marks and his family woke up to even more dead fish Sunday morning after showing Local 10 News’ Louis Aguirre dozens the previous day, in a pond they’ve had for 20 years.
“It’s something in the water, a toxin, a pollutant, because that doesn’t happen all at once,” Marks said.
This the fourth home in this northern Coconut Grove neighborhood near Tigertail and 22nd Avenue experiencing a massive fish. Thousands of these pricey precious fish are all of a sudden dying in similar private ponds in the past couple of weeks-
City of Miami Commissioner Ken Russell has been in contact with DERM, which has already begun analyzing water samples.
“This is a mystery at this point, and this is really concerning, thousands of fish dying in residential and city ponds,” Russell said.
Preliminary results taken by private companies that regularly service the affected ponds show normal oxygen and salinity levels.
“Right now, we’re thinking something might have gotten into the groundwater, because all of the issues are from ponds that use groundwater except for one,” said Jen Wheeler, owner of Pond Doctors.
Basic necropsies performed by Wheeler on-site showed the fish were healthy and not diseased, but something was definitely off.
“We did see evidence of issues within the organs, but it is being evaluated by people higher than us,” Wheeler said.
It wasn’t just the koi ponds at private residences in Coconut Grove that were affected by this issue. The koi pond at Simpson Park also experienced a massive fish kill.
Simpson Park is just a few miles away from the affected Coconut Grove neighborhood.
Half of the fish in the pond were found dead on April 19.
A naturalist who works at the park thought it might be connected to the recent infestation of the highly poisonous Kane toads; the pond is currently full of tadpoles.
“There’s been a larger than normal infestation of these cane toads, these buffo toads that do lay poisonous eggs, and if fish eat those they can die,” Russell said.
But affected residents aren’t buying it. They haven’t seen any evidence of toads or tadpoles or eggs in their ponds or yards. And it’s not just fish that are losing their lives. Raccoons, birds and plants have also died, and for right now, no one seems to know why.
“Normally when you have something going on with fish, it doesn’t necessarily bother any land animals or plants,” Wheeler said. “To have so many animals affected by this, something is going on.”