Hurricane Ian Leaves Florida Water Looking like ‘Root Beer,’ Smelling Like ‘Dead Fish’

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo by BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images)

Weeks after Hurricane Ian devastated the southwestern side of Florida, reports are coming in that the water post-storm looks like root bear but smells like dead fish and compost. 

According to CBS News, records and personal accounts reveal that Hurricane Ian’s toll is filled with spills and “stinky seepages.” Both of which may pose some trouble to the environment. CBS News found at least 20 records of environmentally hazardous issues suspected to be caused but ohs tory. All of which has been reported to the Coast Guard’s National Response Center. 

CBS News further explains that all of the reports in the Coast Guard’s database are initial calls that have not been necessarily validated or investigated by the appropriate agencies yet. However, the reports do provide a “preliminary look” at what could be considered the significant tolls from Hurricane Ian. It was noted that among the reports are several instances of sunken vessels, diesel leaks, and the release of approximately 2,300 gallons of sodium hypochlorite (bleach) from a pipeline. One report says there is an “unknown green sludge” discovered at a Bonita Springs’ apartment complex. The residents there said that it was causing respiratory issues. 

Trucks Caught in Hurricane Ian Floodwater Are Allegedly Leaking Out Battery Acid & Gasoline 

Meanwhile, Dave Tomasko, Executive director of the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, stated that trucks that were caught in Hurricane Ian floodwaters are leaking various chemicals. Some of the chemicals are battery acid and gasoline. The runoff caused by the storm is considered so significant that it was captured by NASA satellites. 

Tomasko said he and others have gathered water samples throughout Florida’s west coast following Hurricane Ian. “That stuff that comes out, it just looks like brown sludge coming out,” he explained. Tomasko further shared he saw that runoff when going out to get samples. “In Sarasota Bay, normally this time of year the water is beautiful blue-green, gorgeous.”

However, Tomasko said that the water now looks like root beer and smells like dead fish rolled into compost. He then shared that tannins (fermented organic material) are roughly the top five feet of water. Tomasko explained several waterways have turned into “underwater compost heaps” filled with organic material. All of which washed in by Hurricane Ian. As the water continues to be layered with different types of blooms, it causes significant damage to marine life. 

“You just swim away if you’re a big fish,” Tomasko continued. “But if you’re a small fish, you can’t swim far enough to get away from this. And if you’re like something that lives on the bottom of the bay, like an oyster or clam, or a worm or a sea star, it might be that that’s going to kill you in place. So we’re probably going to see, I think, a massive amount of fish kill.”