GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — Wildlife officials estimate nearly a million fish have been killed in Southeast Texas by the algae bloom known as red tide.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department offered the estimate after a flyover Thursday in the Galveston area.
Tens of thousands of dead fish began washing up on beaches last weekend. Water samples collected Monday confirmed the red tide at various sites in Galveston Bay.
“This is all very new, so we’re still in the information-gathering phase,” Meredith Byrd, marine biologist for the wildlife department, told the Victoria Advocate. “I have no predictions for how long this is going to last, or how the coast is going to be impacted.”
Wildlife experts Thursday assessed about 20 miles of beach shoreline, including Bolivar Peninsula, Galveston and Surfside. Monitoring continues in areas adjacent to the confirmed red tide outbreak.
Parts of Galveston Bay have been closed to shellfish harvesting because of the algae bloom, which can cause respiratory problems.
Curtis Miller, owner of Miller’s Seafood, worries the algae could hurt the state’s oyster season.
“It would definitely devastate the industry,” Miller told the Victoria Advocate. “Last year, when we finally opened the season, a lot of boats never left the docks. People had gotten other jobs. Some people left it and never came back.”