Sanibel clinic brings awareness to animals sickened by red tide

Reporter: Stephanie Byrne
Published: Updated:

Fort Myers fisherman Brandon Moss has fished on Sanibel for a couple of years.

“Last year, there wasn’t much activity out here,” he says. “If you came here last year, there wouldn’t be anybody on the pier.”

He said while this year’s red tide issues aren’t anywhere near last year’s, we should still protect our environment.

“There’s a lot of people out here that enjoy the area, enjoy this island, including myself and it’s a really beautiful place and we just really need to protect it,” said Moss.

That’s where the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) comes in. This is just one of the faces of red tide.

“We had a Kemp’s Ridley come in that has since been released and then we have the green sea turtle that we have now,” said Shelli Albright, the clinic’s office and admissions manager.

She has seen several species come through their doors with red tide symptoms.

“We’ve had four of our double-crested cormorants come in,” said Albright. “Everything from pelicans, to gulls and terns have come in with those symptoms.”

CROW says compared to years past, with the exception of last year, these red tide patient numbers are common; meaning they’re familiar with the signs.

“If we have a shorebird or seabird that has some red tide symptoms, usually what we hear is it almost behaves like it’s drunk,” said Albright.

As for turtles…

“Not really diving down, but not really swimming either, kind of floating and maybe even struggling to lift their heads to get a breath of air,” she said.

And as we learn the signs to look out for, we hope for solutions, for the wildlife and the community.

“I really hope we can clean this up, get it figured out and really clean up our act on our environment,” said Moss.

CROW says the two turtles admitted for red tide symptoms came from Collier County, while the birds were found in Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel.

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