Volunteers tackle massive fish kill cleanup

At times, boat Captain Tonya Morgan had to hold a shirt over her nose and mouth as she steered her tour boat past thousands of dead fish in the Banana River.  "It's so bad," she sighed. "It makes you want to gag."

This is usually busy season for eco-tourism, but Morgan canceled all tours today after spending less than an hour on the water.  In an area called the "Thousand Islands," dead fish dotted the water for as far as the eye could see.

So, instead of touring, Captain Tonya Morgan teamed up with Florida Wildlife Trapper Leo Cross and a group of volunteers he organized to help remove the dead and rotting fish from the river.

After just a few minutes, their nets were brimming with a foul catch that not even a mask could keep out.  "I feel seriously like I'm gonna puke," said Leo Cross, who has encountered numerous dead animals in his work as a wildlife rescuer.

RELATED:  Biologists peg likely cause of massive fish kill in Brevard County

The volunteers picked up fish by boat, and on shore.  At Squid Lips in Melbourne, waitresses tossed dead fish by the dozens into buckets. From Cocoa Beach to Melbourne, thousands of dead fish were removed, but far more remain.  "I know what we are doing today is not even putting a dent in the bucket" Cross lamented. "But we'll give it a shot."

Waste Management, in cooperation with Brevard County, set up six dumpsters at locations in areas where the fish kill was more concentrated. Residents are encouraged to dump the dead fish at the designated sites. The county says the fish carcasses will be buried in the county landfill.