There is something very strange occurring to some sea life in the Florida Keys. Several species of fish have been found in the ocean “spinning,” oftentimes to death.

I first learned about this issue in a report by Bill Weir, CNN’s chief climate correspondent. In his report, Weir interviewed long-time Florida scuba diver Gregg Furstenwerth who last fall began noticing this odd behavior by sea life when he saw stingrays swimming upside down. Then he saw giant groupers flailing on their sides and other species just spinning in the water.

Furstenwerth added he felt like the guy yelling from the ocean, “There is a problem!” and no one was listening; however, plenty of people are listening now as more reports of this strange spinning behavior, included by the sawfish, is reported.

The video, which you can find by searching the internet for spinning fish disease, is not just curious but frightening. We are, unfortunately, used to seeing beached whales but it is just terrifying to see a sawfish spinning around and around, then throwing itself onto the shore while still attempting to spin.

The smalltooth sawfish, by the way, is defined as an endangered species by the Federal Endangered Species Act and is a federally designated endangered species by Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule.

However, sawfish are dying due to this terrible and mysterious disease; I say disease because no one is exactly sure if it is a disease that is causing this behavior.

Scientists have looked into low oxygen in the water and red tides as possible causes but have pretty much ruled those out.

The images of these struggling fish just wouldn’t leave my mind. As I have stated in the past, I was raised as an empath – someone who always puts themself in someone else’s shoes – even if they are fins. I just keep thinking of how scared these creatures must be.

At the moment, this is only occurring in the lower Florida Keys but knowing how nature is all connected it does make me wonder if this is a canary in the mine moment.

I reached out to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC).

“It has been in the lower [Florida] Keys and was first detected last year,” said Jonathan Veach, spokesman for FFWCC.

The Commission is working with other agencies including NOAA Fisheries and the University of South Alabama’s School of Marine and Environmental Sciences.

Veach said it is still not known what is causing this tragic behavior and they are still waiting for lab analysis to return.

“The behavior varies,” Veach added. “It doesn’t necessarily mean the spinning [will] always lead to death. It is unusual behavior over such a large area [that is] of concern.”

Unfortunately, most of the fish found suffering from this unusual behavior do die. The sightings were at first reported in the Florida Keys but there have been reports of this behavior all the way to Miami.

I also think another thing that causes fear is that scientists can’t immediately figure out what is causing this behavior. We are so used to science finding answers immediately we forget there are times when they do not, and the not knowing is scary.

I will continue to follow the progress of these organizations and share information as it becomes available.

As I have written in the past, my youngest daughter is part of the non-profit organization Bleu World where members of the organization teach people how to be “citizen scientists.” My kid is a dive instructor, so after a person learns to dive they can then learn how to gather data as they enjoy swimming under the sea. But they don’t have to be divers; people are also trained to be citizen scientists who hike, surf or just walk along the beach.

These types of citizen scientists are really helping with collecting information on the spinning behavior as residents and tourists take videos they then share with scientists. This is amazing because everyone can be part of the solution in helping to find answers.

The FFWCC has a website it updates regularly about the “abnormal fish behavior.” There are a total of 52 species that have been found to be affected by this behavior.

As of Wednesday, there were 40 sawfish reported to have died due to this disease, 441 fish deaths reported, 226 fish samples collected and 165 water samples collected.

For information go to:

Locally, our weather this coming week looks dry and in the high 70s to low 80s. Friday will be around 72 degrees then Sunday will warm up to 80 and back down again on Monday to the mid 70s. There may be some winds tonight with gusts of 15 mph, according to NOAA.