Red tide reported at multiple Lee County beaches

Reporter: Gina Tomlinson Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Credit: Ralph Arwood/Calusa Waterkeeper

Florida Department of Health in Lee County (DOH-Lee) reported Friday red tide blooms near Tarpon Bay Road Beach, Lighthouse Beach, Lynn Hall Beach Park, Lover’s Key State Park and Bonita Springs Beach Park.

We saw dead fish washing up on some beaches after the health alert was made. That included Barefoot Beach in Bonita Springs.

With the advisory extending from Sanibel to Bonita in Lee County, some beachgoers are feeling impacts.

“Smelly, smelly, smelly, smelly,” Annette Hilles said. “It’s kinda sad.”

Red tide signs are up, yet families were still swimming in the water. Some, including Jennifer and Micheal Brown, were making the most out of a beach day.

“I think the only thing that’s not going to make you go to the beach is if it’s raining,” Michael said.

The Browns were visiting from Indiana.

“The red tide, it does make you cough a little bit,” Jennifer said.

The Hilleses aren’t bothered by the bloom.

“It’s not that bad here at all,” Annette Hilles said. “I hate to see it when it gets hotter. More toward the summer, it’s probably going to get worse.”

We saw only a handful of dead fish on the beach. The water from the shores looked clear Friday, but photos from the sky taken just a day before told a different story.

“Murky lake color,” Michael said.

“Yeah, the bottom too looks kind of murky, Michelle said.

Calusa Waterkeeper said you can see the stained polluted water entering the Gulf from the Caloosahatchee off Barefoot Beach.

“They need to do something,” Walter Hilles said.

“We have to do our part too,” Annette said. “We can’t litter the beaches, we can’t leave all our junk everywhere.”

If you want to stay clear of red tide this weekend, you might want to avoid Barefoot Beach to Vanderbilt Beach.

Collier County officials said they’ve had reports of dead fish there and respiratory irritation from the blooms.

According to the health department, “Some people may have mild and short-lived respiratory symptoms such as eye, nose and throat irritation similar to cold symptoms. Some individuals with breathing problems such as asthma might experience more severe symptoms. Usually symptoms go away when a person leaves the area or goes indoors. Health officials recommend that people experiencing these symptoms stay away from beach areas or go into an air-conditioned space. If symptoms do not subside, please contact your health care provider for evaluation.”

Florida Poison Control Centers have a toll-free 24/7 Hotline for reporting of illnesses, including health effects from exposure to red tide at 1-800-222-1222.

Additional information on locations where red tide has been found is available on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research website.

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