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Why Thousands of Fish Washed Up On Texas Beaches Explained

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Every summer in Texas seems a little different when it comes to heading to our South Texas beaches. Some summers the shores are covered in seaweed, some years there are massive amounts of jellyfish, and some summers the shores and the waters are perfect.

This summer is a little different. Or is it?

Over the weekend in Texas, beachcombers and water enthusiasts were shocked to discover thousands upon thousands of Gulf menhaden fish washed ashore on several South Texas beaches.

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During the summer months, beaches like Quintana Beach located about 2 hours north of the Crossroads offer that they are "a natural beach, maintained by tides and weather. At any given time, there may be driftwood, seaweed, and other plant life on the beach."

What they never thought to advertise was the sheer mass amounts of menhaden that had washed ashore in the warm Gulf Coast waters.

As crews continue to clear the carcasses of dead fish, which park officials described as "shredded skeletons," the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Kills and Spills Team offer the cause of the massive die-off.

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What killed thousands of Texas fish?

NPR was able to interview top officials from TPWD who offer that the massive die-off was caused by a perfect storm of events.  

Warm calm waters and cloudy skies meant less H2O for large schools of Gulf menhaden who suffocated due to the lack of oxygen in the water.

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Believe it or not, scientists report this might not be such a bad thing.

Massive die-offs create a pruning effect and can actually benefit the animals, like sharks and sea birds that snack on Gulf menhaden in the waters. So thousands of fish washing ashore can be a good thing for the animals in Texas.

For beachgoers though, it's a stinky mess and one more thing to contend with on Texas beaches.


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