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Goliath groupers wash ashore in Florida during massive fish kill

Two goliath groupers were found along the coast of St. Petersburg, Florida, as the city continues to deal with an overwhelming number of dead fish due to a devastating red tide.

Fox 13 News reported that it was unclear how the two massive fish died, but crews in the city have been trying to clean dead fish and excess algae. One of the groupers weighed about 400 pounds and crews needed to use a backhoe to lift the fish from the water.

The report said as of Tuesday, 614 tons of dead fish had been collected.

“Anywhere you look, from St. Pete to Tampa Bay, the channels, south Apollo Beach; it’s just floating dead fish,” Dustin Pack., a fly fishing captain, told the affiliate.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Goliath Groupers can weigh up to 800 pounds. The species has been banned from being harvested in waters off the southeast U.S. coast since 1990. If a Goliath Grouper is caught, it must be released. 

The fish was nominated to be considered an endangered species in 1991 and was listed as a “species of concern” later, NOAA said. In 2006, Goliath Groupers were removed from the species of concern list, but they remain banned for harvest.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman on Wednesday called on Gov. Ron Desantis to declare a state of emergency in order to free up state funds.

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“This isn’t about politics. I know the governor has had a lot to juggle lately, but we need his office to be paying attention to this,” he said, according to the station.

Fox News’ Ann W. Schmidt contributed to this report

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