Recent St. Pete fish kill unexpectedly killing pelicans

By Josh Rojas, Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, January 13, 2017, 1:16 PM EST

St. Petersburg city workers have been collecting thousands of pounds of dead fish from the Riviera Bay neighborhood that are apparently making pelicans sick, as well.

  • Crews have pulled 2,000 pounds of dead fish
  • Officials say fish kill result of "classic thermal inversion"
  • Deaths among pelicans make this fish kill unusual

The city says they collected two more dead pelicans Friday, bringing the total to nine. The Seaside Seabird Sanctuary says they collected 6 more sick pelicans today. That brings the number to 10 sick pelicans now recovering.

City workers have found the sick and dead pelicans over the past few days, according to Stormwater director John Norris.  

"It looks like we have a classic thermal inversion in the lake due to the low temperatures we had last week,” said Norris.

Norris told us city crews pulled 2,000 pounds of dead fish out of the Riviera Bay neighborhood lake on Thursday that’s bordered by Macoma Drive NE and Riviera Bay Drive NE. Homeowner Paul Morgan said the problem began on Tuesday.

"Pretty large, probably over 1,000 fish,” said Morgan. “All different kinds and some of them pretty fairly good size.”

Morgan said fish kills happen in the lake every few years when there’s an extreme temperature change. What’s unusual about this one is that it’s the first time birds are being killed too.

"We've got some birds who are in here trying to eat the fish,” he said. “It looks like they're sick."

Seaside Seabird Sanctuary operations manager Eddie Gayton said he's attempted to rescue multiple pelicans and one great white egret. 

Gayton, too, said he’s not yet sure what’s killing the birds.

“They’re acting like it may be a toxin,” he said. “We’re going to do the best we can.”

The city requested FWC take water samples to check for toxic algae and complete necropsies on the dead pelicans.