wjxt logo

Fish dying in San Sebastian River

FWC testing water

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is testing the water after several fish have died in the San Sebastian River that spans through St. Johns County.

A viewer sent News4Jax a photo showing about a dozen fish belly-up in the water, prompting some to wonder if there's a fish kill happening.

Donald Samson, who lives on the river, has his boat docked at a local marina. He said he also takes a smaller boat out regularly, and there has been contaminants in the river before.

"We did have any issue when the tide got really high. A lot of debris came off those swamps over there, and a lot of it was garbage, rubber gloves, soda bottles," Samson said. "The marina was full of them for about two weeks. I don't know if that had anything to do with any kind of fish kill. But we haven't seen any dead fish. We only seen one or two."

Residents in the area said they're concerned, which is why FWC decided to come out and investigate. 

Samson said he's seen FWC out on the river before.

"They just come out here with the little thing, scoop up in a jar, a couple of jars. And they label it, and they leave," Samson said. 

News4Jax showed the photo to Samson, who said the fish could have come from a shrimping boat, when crews catch fish by accident during the process.

"A lot of times, they'll just throw, if they have extra, they usually try to get rid of it at sea. They may have had some leftover they dumped in the river and somebody saw it. They're already dead when they come off the shrimping boat," Samson said. 

Samson said they aren't supposed to do that, but sometimes, they do it anyway.

FWC said it will have biologists analyze the samples they get to see if there's anything in the river causing fish to die.