Red tide threatens SWFL boat races

Published: Updated:

ENGLEWOOD, Fla. — Red tide has been reported along the coasts of Englewood beach just days before the Englewood Beach Water Festival.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation released a red tide map showing high concentrations of the toxic algae, causing dead fish to wash ashore.

Photo via the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

However, Ralph Young, president of the festival, isn’t worried red tide will affect attendance.

“The racers will be here whether it’s red tide or not,” Young said. “A true race fan will be here whether there’s red tide or not.”

But Jennifer Defederico, a staff member who rides in the dive boat, said the red tide has changed her role.

“Now there are floating objects in the water,” Defederico said. “Our job is to watch and to scoop up anything that could actually be sucked up into their engine.”

Boaters believe the dead fish is merely another obstacle encountered in their sport.

“We race in the ocean, we race in the lakes,” said racer Dale Wright. “You never know what could be in that ocean or lake so, you know, that’s just the thrill of the sport.”

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