Update: VIDEO | Currents Possible Reason for Dead Sunfish Sightings in St. Augustine | Environment

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Update: VIDEO | Currents Possible Reason for Dead Sunfish Sightings in St. Augustine
Update: VIDEO | Currents Possible Reason for Dead Sunfish Sightings in St. Augustine

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is waiting on test results from a large mola fish found dead on  the beach today.

"On the one hand, it's a common fish offshore," said Tom Pitchford, a biologist with FWC.  "On the other hand, we don't normally see them on the beach, so we really want to figure out by looking at these carcasses that've washed ashore if there's something going on with the fish."

The sharp-tailed mola was found on Vilano Beach early Monday morning.  Just last week, another sunfish was found dead along St. Augustine Beach. 

Some scientists believe a parasite may be to blame for that death. 

But Dr. Quinton White, executive director of the Marine Science Institute at Jacksonville University, said he thinks the sightings have more to do with the currents right now on the First Coast.    He said the fish usually get eaten or sink after they die.  However, a combination of the winds and tides in the area are likely to have caused the fish to wash ashore after death, he said.

"I think with beautiful weather you have more people on the beach," Dr. White explained.  "[They are] more likely to be found, be reported and now become a news event."

FWC performed a necropsy on the fish and St. Johns County is now responsible for burying it on the beach.

According to FWC officials, this was the seventh mola fish to wash up on the east coast of Florida since the beginning of the year.

  • January 11 - Wabasso - an ocean sunfish was found dead
  • February 8 - Daytona Beach - a sharp tailed mola was discovered, biologists took samples of the fish for testing
  • Between February 8-14 - Canaveral Beach - a fish washed up, but was too badly decomposed for identification or testing
  • February 14 - New Smyrna Bearch - a sharp tailed mola was reported, but the FWC could not take samples because it was buried too quickly
  • February 16 - St. Augustine Beach - a sharp tailed mola was reported dead, scientists took samples for testing
  • February 17 - Wabasso - ocean sunfish found dead, samples taken
  • February 20 - St. Augustine Inlet - a live mola was reported swimming
  • February 21 - Vilano Beach - officials believe that same mola washed up dead, samples were taken for testing

    Carli Segelson with the Fish and Wildlilfe Commission is urging anyone who sees a dead fish to call the state's Fishkill Hotline at 1-800-636-0511.

    It could be several more weeks before scientists get back test results from the dead molas. 

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