PALM BEACH, Fla., Dec. 8 (UPI) -- A massive influx of jellyfish that shut down a Florida nuclear power plant in late August also killed several tons of protected grouper fish, officials said.
Florida Power & Light's St. Lucie plant was shut down for two days because of the jellyfish invasion, and wildlife officials and marine researchers have now determined the event killed several tons of protected goliath grouper, The Palm Beach Post reported.
On Aug. 22 the plant's three intake pipes began sucking in an unusually large number of moon jellyfish at their intakes nearly three miles offshore.
Traveling through the pipes at about 4.6 mph, the jellyfishes' poisonous tentacles broke off.
The grouper fish, trapped in the plant's intake canal, died when the poisonous tentacles became attached to their gills causing them to swell, wildlife officials said.
About 50 to 75 groupers, each weighing as much as an estimated 200 pounds, were killed, they said.
FPL spokesman Doug Andrews said the utility removed the fish as quickly as possible because of "concerns about the spread of bacteria and disease."
"FPL takes its responsibility to protect the environment very seriously," Andrews said. "We're just as bothered when they die as anybody."