Dead fish raising a stink in Sarasota lake

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SARASOTA - Dead fish continue to plague residents in a Sarasota community. The mass fish kill began in Mirror Lake on Tuesday, and the situation is getting worse.

The dead fish are accumulating along the banks in Mirror Lake, near the intersection of Clark and Beneva roads. But those in the area say it’s not the eyesore they are worried about, it’s the stench.

"It stinks," says Robert Muller about the rotting fish in the lake just a few feet from his door. "The smell was remarkable; it was ghastly already from these fish that are dead and rotting."

Tuesday the fish began dying in Mirror Lake, but the county says they don't own the lake, so they can’t remove the dead fish -- which means the fish have just been collecting along the edge of the water.

"This is a health issue. I don’t think you can have hundreds of pounds of dead fish laying on the bank rotting, just 30 feet away. It’s like a toxic waste dump," says Muller.

So ABC 7 got on the phone with the health department and found out there are no health related concerns for those in the area. And officials say those bothered by the smell should stay away from the lake, keep doors and windows locked. They also recommend running the air conditioner.

But the residents are convinced there is more to the mass fish killing than is being said. “I didn’t see any dead fish on the other lakes at all, so it’s just this lake from Clark Road here to Marydale. There have been people talking about that the county was out spraying something, I don’t know what, a few days ago."

ABC 7 confirmed that mosquito management was out treating the area near the lake. But they say the product used could not have caused the fish to die.

"It’s only harmful to things like mosquito larvae, which have an alkaline gut system, which we don’t. Everyone knows we have acidic gut systems, so does fish," says Matthew Smith of Sarasota County Mosquito Control.

In fact he says the product applied in the area to kill mosquitoes is also commonly used at fish farms. "The Aquabat product, I've used it in fish operations in Southern California with absolutely no toxicity to fish."

But despite the reason for the mass fish kill, residents say the after effects are unacceptable. “Please help us, clean this up before we have to leave, because it’s starting to get to the point where it’s hard to breathe out here, it smells so bad," says Muller.