Beachgoers feeling effects of red tide along SWFL coast

Reporter: Gina Tomlinson Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Dead fish seen on Fort Myers Beach in October 2019. Credit: WINK News.

With traces of red tide popping up along the coast of Southwest Florida, people we spoke to Wednesday said they can feel the effects of its presence.

“Little hard to breathe,” visitor Barron Combs said.

And the fish kills are nowhere near what was seen in the summer of 2018, but dead fish are noticeable on the beach sands.

“I kind of get grossed out a little bit,” visitor Morgan Oellig said.

And the sight and smell is enough to turn away some returning visitors to the area. Visitor Tom Ansell told us he is putting his beach plans on hold.

“We thought things were good, but we’ve been coughing all along,” Ansell said.

Red tide is being measured at medium levels near Fort Myers Beach currently. Dead fish have popped up on the beach along the shoreline.

“We’ve seen like four or five or six,” Oellig said.

“We watched tons of fish being extracted right before anybody got up,” Ansell said.

The current red tide conditions are not bothering all beachgoers, however. Combs was feeling the effects, but he says it’s not scaring him away from the beach.

“Coughing a little bit, smells a little funky,” Combs said. “But not too bad.”

Scientists we spoke to are also monitoring dead fish popping up along Sanibel Island’s shores, where red tide is at medium concentration levels. A sea turtle also reportedly died Wednesday, and it may have been due to red tide levels, but that remains undetermined.

Anyone with respiratory problems might want to consider avoiding beach areas with recorded red tide concentrations at this time.

People in the area who remember last year’s conditions are looking at the red dots on current red tide maps and hope those blooms don’t blossom.

“Right now, my wife is nervous,” Ansell said.

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