VIDEO/PHOTOS: Collier County to remove hundreds of dead fish in East Naples lake

RAW VIDEO: Fish kill at E. Naples lake

Massive fish kill to be cleaned up ...

Eagle Lakes Community Park

11565 Tamiami Trl E, Naples, FL

— A massive fish kill stinking up an East Naples park is set to be cleaned up starting today.

Hundreds — thousands by some counts — of dead tilapia went belly up in a 16-acre lake at Eagle Lakes Community Park over the weekend.

Windy conditions sent the stench into part of the Lely Resort neighborhood next door to the lake, according to complaints to Collier County officials.

By Tuesday afternoon, park managers decided that the cleanup job was too big for the vultures that had flocked to the lake for an easy feast.

“The consensus is nature isn’t taking its course quickly enough so we’re going to expedite it a little bit,” said Barry Williams, the county parks and recreation director.

Williams said it could take a couple days to clean up the mess; the fish will be taken to the county landfill, he said.

Fish kills get more common this time of year as water levels get lower and days get longer, county pollution control worker Rhonda Watkins said.

Dropping water levels concentrates nutrients, spurring algae blooms that are sustained by warmer weather and more sunlight, she said.

“It just makes perfect growing conditions,” she said.

In the daytime, the algae produces oxygen. At night, though, the algae use up oxygen.

Algae also use up oxygen as it decays, which was already happening to a huge algae bloom in the Eagle Lakes pond where the county stores treated wastewater effluent for irrigation.

Overcast skies last week pushed the oxygen levels in the lake over the edge, she said.

Signs posted around the lake warn people not to fish or swim in the wastewater pond, but nobody needed any signs to tell them something was wrong Tuesday.

Rotting dead fish were piled up along the banks of the lake, turning the stomachs of visitors to the popular bird-watching site north of U.S. 41 East.

The lake is ringed by a walking and bicycling path, which is where Danielle Marchend spent part of her Tuesday morning.

“The smell is horrible,” Marchend, of East Naples, said. “I was anxious to leave.”

Three days ago, she said, she noticed hundreds of fish coming up to the surface of the lake to breathe and wondered what might be wrong with them.

She said the county should step in and clean up the rotting fish.

“Absolutely,” she said.

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