September 30, 2009

Cause of Florida shark deaths unknown

The official cause of death of nine bonnethead sharks and two black tip sharks found dead in Marco Island, Fla., remains unknown, officials say.

Collier County pollution control specialist Rhonda Watkins said fish tissue samples taken from the sharks found dead Tuesday on Sand Dollar Island were being tested along with water samples to determine what killed them, the Naples (Fla.) News reported.

Watkins suggested the 11 sharks, which did not wash up in the same location on the beach, may have been dumped by fishermen after accidentally being caught in fishing nets.

The county official said a stingray and four gafftopsail catfish were also found on the beach. The deaths have not officially been linked to last week's algae bloom near Naples that killed thousands of baitfish, a Collier County Pollution Control report said.

The Naples News said water samples taken from area recreational sites like Naples Pier and Clam Pass this week contained remnants of the deadly bloom.