Why thousands of fish washed up on these Texas beaches

Thousands of dead fish washed up on Texas beaches due to a “low dissolved oxygen event,” essentially suffocating the fish.

What happened: Warm, shallow water and calm seas deprived the fish of oxygen.
* Warm water holds less oxygen; shallow water heats up faster.
* Few waves and winds did not help redistribute oxygen in the water.
* Cloudy skies reduced oxygen production by phytoplankton through photosynthesis.

Why it’s not all bad: Most of the dead fish were Gulf menhaden, a species that provides nutrients for predators and filters impurities in the water.
* The die-off creates a “huge nutrient pulse into our environment,” according to Katie St. Clair, manager of the sea life facility at Texas A&M University at Galveston.

Climate change factor: Oceans are heating up due to human-caused climate change, potentially leading to more such fish kill events.
* “Water can only hold so much oxygen at certain temperatures, and certainly we know that seawater temperatures are rising,” said Clair.

View original article on NPR

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