© WPLG Miami
Fort Lauderdale -- As Florida's record cold snap moves out, the impact near-freezing temperatures have had on wildlife continues to threaten the state's fragile ecosystem.

Freezing fish, thousands of them, line the coast of South Florida from Key West to Fort Lauderdale.

"Cold water stress is causing all of these fish to die. We are seeing freshwater fish, saltwater fish, all turning up belly up," said Officer Jorge Pino of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Pino ad the FWC patrol the state's waterways.

"The problem is the cold weather is altering the oxygen levels in the water, and that's causing the fish to die," he said.

It's a double-edged sword. Pino said cold water slows fish down. The altering levels of oxygen render them unconscious.

The record cold snap has affected animals of all kinds. Last week, manatees migrated to Miami as water temperatures up north got too cold. Then there are the frozen, free-falling iguanas. The resilient lizards, in a kind of hibernation state, wake up when the weather warms up.

For fish, though, it is not as easy. Environmentalists said it is still too early to tell just how many fish have been killed by this cold snap, but they said as the weather starts to warm up, the environmental impact it's had on the fish population will continue to linger.

"Everything in nature is connected. When you take one thing out of it, the rest of it is impacted," said biologist Vanessa McDonough, of Biscayne National Park.

McDonough said the deaths of the fish could harm the food chain. She said the park had waged a successful battle to keep the ecosystem alive through the population boom of the last decade. Millions of taxpayer dollars have been used to combat water pollution and over-fishing in the park. But she said fighting Mother Nature is impossible.

"It's just another peg that's hitting it in. We're going to have more loss of fish. And honestly, we just don't know how hard a hit it's going to be yet," she said.

For now, she said, it's wait, see and hope Mother Nature can survive her own wrath.