Sunday, May 12, 2024

In the mystery of Florida’s bizarre spinning fish, a leading suspect has emerged


A mysterious ailment causing fish in the Florida Keys to spin in circles has touched off a frantic race to find the cause and save an endangered species before it’s too late.

Eight months into scientists’ hunt, some think a primary suspect has emerged: Toxins from algae colonizing the seafloor may be causing neurological issues for some fish species.

Fishermen noticed the bizarre behavior in October, according to Ross Boucek, a fisheries ecologist with the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, a nonprofit conservation and fishing group.

“When they shined their lights, fish would turn upside down and spin to the bottom,” he said.

Over the following months, Boucek received reports of upside-down stingrays and lemon sharks whirling violently in the mud. Dozens of species were afflicted, including the critically endangered smalltooth sawfish, which is known for its flat snout with teeth that looks like a saw blade...more

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