JAMAICA BEACH, Texas – Thousands of dead fish are washing ashore along the Texas coast from the Colorado River to Galveston Island and Parks and Wildlife biologists suspect low oxygen levels off shore may be to blame.
What tides are bringing in on Jamaica Beach is making people pause.
"I hope it’s nothing major," said Mark Gannon, who took his family to the beach Sunday. "I hope the water is safe."
Thousands of dead shad litter the sand.
"Any idea what it is?" asked Gannon’s wife Alexia.
Her children tried to explain the problem.
"At night time, the waves pull up really far so the fish can’t handle that, so they get up on the shore," said Abby Gannon.
Authorities said the answer is not so simple. Biologists with the Parks and Wildlife Department began testing ph, saline and oxygen levels in water samples taken along the coast.
"When something’s affecting one [fish] then usually a lot of them are being affected at the same time because it’s such a big group [swimming in schools] together," said Steven Mitchell of Texas Parks and Wildlife.
He suspects low oxygen in the water is a problem. However, he won’t know for sure until biologists are able to test water up to 10 miles off shore. That could take several days.
Meanwhile, there is no threat to people on the beach, authorities said.
Still, people like the Gannons said their plan to spend the children’s final week of summer vacation on the beach could change a bit.
"I imagine as it gets warmer the smell [of the dead shad] will get stronger and we will likely want to go home," Alexia Gannon said.
To report dead fish, call Texas Parks and Wildlife at 281-842-8100.