Mystery in the Florida Keys as six rare sawfish die in 7 days - while others ... trends now

Mystery in the Florida Keys as six rare sawfish die in 7 days - while others ... trends now
Mystery in the Florida Keys as six rare sawfish die in 7 days - while others ... trends now

Mystery in the Florida Keys as six rare sawfish die in 7 days - while others ... trends now

In the last week, six dead smalltooth sawfish washed up on the shores of the Florida Keys, baffling researchers who have documented a total of 38 deaths since January.

The smalltooth sawfish is on the brink of extinction and a growing number of reported deaths is raising additional concern among marine biologists.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is conducting autopsies on the smalltooth sawfish including analyzing blood and tissue samples for any toxins in their system. 

Researchers are still unsure about what's causing the fish to die off, but Florida has seen an excess growth of harmful and toxic algae in the ocean that can get into a fish's blood stream through the food they eat causing erratic swimming and death, according to the FWC.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission rescued a smalltooth sawfish (pictured) after it received reports that it was acting oddly and was swimming in circles

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission rescued a smalltooth sawfish (pictured) after it received reports that it was acting oddly and was swimming in circles

The FWC took blood and tissue samples from the rescued sawfish to determine if it had any toxins in its system

The FWC took blood and tissue samples from the rescued sawfish to determine if it had any toxins in its system

There have also been reports that smalltooth sawfish are beaching themselves, adding to the growing concerning behavior of other fish that have been seen spinning off the coast of the Florida Keys

There have also been reports that smalltooth sawfish are beaching themselves, adding to the growing concerning behavior of other fish that have been seen spinning off the coast of the Florida Keys

Researchers first documented alarming behavior among some fish species in November of last year as reports of fish spinning in circles came flooding in.

But when they discovered the first dead sawfish earlier this year, researchers wanted to know if the two events could be linked. 

'Are the two related? We can't definitively say that,' Tom Matthews, a biologist at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, told Forbes.

'But we're pursuing this with every means we have,' he added.

The smalltooth sawfish is a critically endangered species, believed to be due to habitat loss. The species once lived as far down as the coast of central west Africa up to North Carolina

The smalltooth sawfish is a critically endangered species, believed to be due to habitat loss. The species once lived as far down as the coast of central west Africa up to North Carolina

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