Dead fish could fertilize algal blooms in Tampa Bay
CLEARWATER -- When St. Petersburg College natural sciences professor Heyward H. Mathews saw the thousands of dead fish left decomposing around Tampa Bay after they were killed by January's extended cold, his mind went to his research on algae.
With so many dead fish around -- each one like a little bag of Miracle-Gro -- he fears that the excess nutrients could lead to a boom in algae populations in the coming months -- a phenomenon that would reduce water quality and kill even more aquatic life by reducing oxygen content in local waterways.
"As long as the water's cold, that slows everything down," Mathews said. "Come March and April, we'll see horrendous algae blooms."
Those fears may be well founded, say state and county officials -- especially since local waters already have higher-than-natural levels of nutrients in them from sewer and agriculture runoff.