The smell gives it away. Dead fish everywhere.
For the people who live along a lake in Northeast Miami-Dade, the odor hits them as soon as they pull up to their street, and gets worse as they make their way from road toward water.
Hundreds of dead fish have popped up in a lake in the Sun Swept Isles neighborhood of Highland Lakes, off busy Ives Dairy Road.
The rotting floaters have since made their way into a canal on Northeast 214th Street between 24th and 25th courts and into the seawalls and backyards of houses surrounding the lake.
The cause of the kill is a mystery at the moment.
Martin Karp, a Sun Swept Isles resident and Miami-Dade School Board member, said Monday that he originally thought the dead fish were turtles coming up for air.
“Late Friday I realized they were dying fish,” Karp said. “Just imagine a bunch of fish, all scattered across the entire lake.”
Rabbi Moishe Kievman, who has lived in Sun Swept Isles for 15 years, said he didn’t realize the lake was full of dead fish at first.
“The lake was full of white patches,” Kievman said. “I thought ‘that’s disgusting’ when I realized what it was.”
Karp says he thinks the fish may be mullet. A county inspector believes they’re carp.
Miami-Dade isn’t testing the water because there is no surface sheen or other evidence of a chemical spill or dumping, said Tere Estorio Florin, communications manager for the Miami-Dade Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources.
Karp is new to Sun Swept Isles, but says neighbors told him this is not the first time large numbers of dead fish have surfaced.
“Sometimes it’s been different fish, or different species or a mix,” Karp said.
The official cause of the fish kill is not yet known and cleanup efforts have yet to be begin. Still, Karp is looking for an explanation.
“Is it lack of oxygen? Is it contamination or pollutants? Is it a combination of things?” Karp said. “At this point, it’s a public health issue and someone should respond. The waterways connect to our state park and to the bay and eventually the ocean.”
Florin says the area was inspected on Sunday, and she is waiting for the details of the assessment to explain why fish are dying.
A similar kill happened in Coral Gables on Monday morning near the Biltmore Hotel. Florin is still waiting for details from that inspection as well.
In some cases, warm water during summer has choked off air supply.
“From past experience,” Florin said in an email, “events like this are due to low oxygen levels.”