Jean Ellis and Herb Mevers walk along the beaches of Bay St. Louis weekly but this particular stroll didn’t last long. “There’s a large, dead fish which we don’t ever see,” said Mevers.
These are the large, dead fish that Hancock County crews have been cleaning up by the thousands for two consecutive days. The Department of Marine Resources says the fish are black drum and they’ve died as a result of the red algae bloom plaguing the Coast. The reason they’ve washed ashore is due to the moving currents and southwesterly winds. Not only are these fish unsightly but the foul smell is nearly suffocating. “The odor was awful. I just didn’t want to smell it. I was holding my nose with my shirt,” said Ellis.
The thousands of dead, stinky fish washing to shore in Hancock County has many residents believing the red algae bloom is getting even worse but DMR wants people to know it’s actually getting better as a cold front moves through. Harmful algae thrive in warmer waters, now that colder temperatures are forecasted in the near future, the bloom could soon be gone, but not soon enough for many residents. Bay St. Louis resident Sandy Robert said, “How much longer are we going to see marine life and ducks and birds dying from the red tide?” “It’s just not a pleasant thing to have to be in or look at or experience,” said Ellis.
Adverse weather has kept DMR crews from sampling the water thoroughly. As the waters begin to calm, testing will be completed to see if the harmful conditions from this year’s red tide will wash away, leaving the Gulf waters and marine life safe in the sound.
Officials say seafood poses no risk for illness but people are advised to refrain from eating any fish organs until further notice. The public is also advised to stay out of the water and to not touch the dead fish.