A large-scale sustained fish kill in the St. Johns River, Florida: A complex consequence of cyanobacteria blooms
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A large-scale sustained fish kill in the St. Johns River, Florida: A complex consequence of cyanobacteria blooms

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  • Journal Title:
    Harmful Algae
  • Description:
    In the summer of 2010, a sustained multispecies fish kill, affecting primarily adult red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) and Atlantic stingray (Dasyatis sabina), along with various baitfish such as menhaden (Brevoortia spp.) and shad (Dorosoma spp.), was documented for six weeks along 50 km of the Lower St. Johns River (LSJR), Florida. An Aphanizomenon flos-aquae bloom was present in the freshwater reaches before the fish kill. The kill was triggered by a significant reverse-flow event and sudden influx of high-salinity water in late May that contributed to the collapse of the bloom upstream and brought euryhaline fish downstream into the vicinity of the senescing bloom or its by-products. The decomposing bloom led to a sequence of events, including the release of small amounts of cyanotoxins, bacterial lysis of cyanobacterial cells, high organic loading, and changes in the diversity and dominance of the plankton community to include Microcystis spp., Leptolyngbya sp., Pseudanabaena spp., Planktolyngbya spp., and low concentrations of Heterosigma akashiwo. Dissolved oxygen levels were within normal ranges in the reach of the fish kill, although elevated ammonia concentrations and high pH were detected farther upstream. These conditions resulted in complex pathological changes in fish that were not consistent with acute cyanotoxin exposure or with poor water quality but were attributable to chronic lethal hemolysis. Potential sources of hemolytic activity included H. akashiwo, Microcystis spp., and Bacillus cereus, a hemolytic bacterium. The continued presence of A. flos-aquae in the LSJR could have significant environmental repercussions and ideally the causal factors contributing to bloom growth and maintenance should be fully understood and managed.
  • Source:
    Harmful Algae, 92, 101771
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  • Rights Information:
    Accepted Manuscript
  • Rights Statement:
    This manuscript is made available under the Elsevier user license https://www.elsevier.com/open-access/userlicense/1.0/
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