Translating the Southwest Florida red tide map

Reporter: Stephanie Byrne
Published: Updated:

It is no surprise why folks call Southwest Florida home for the holidays even with all those reports of red tide.

“One of the only places here that you can have tropical weather in the winter,” said Peter Werkelin, a part-time resident.

“Actually, when we see a lot of red tide,” said Ernie Razzano, with his wife, Jean, both of whom are part-time residents, “we don’t bother coming.”

Maps indicate dots lining the coast, alerting people to red tide. But that does not mean you will feel the effects. For instance, when Bonita Beach Park shows a red tide dot for Nov. 20, Jean Razzano said there was no smell and that “the water’s clean, no dead fish.”

Dr. Mike Parsons, professor of marine science in The Water School at Florida Gulf Coast University, said if the wind is blowing from the east onto our coast, there is less of a chance of “getting any kind of effect from the brevetoxin.”

Parsons told WINK News the dots we see on the coastline map are likely samples taken on the beach itself, but if you move further away, there is not “good coverage offshore,” which is a “deficit really in our understanding.”

But, sometimes the best method is taking the water conditions day-by-day.

“You just have to gauge it by the day and do the research,” Werkelin said, “and figure out what beach is going to work for you.”

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