Low dead fish count doesn’t mean red tide is gone

Reporter: Erika Jackson Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Credit: WINK News.

Dead fish have been washing up along Charlotte County beaches for weeks, but there are days no fish can been seen at all.

We took a voyage Thursday with a boat captain to get a look out on the water, since red tide can often be a hidden danger.

Boating is captain Ryan Riegsecker’s passion. He makes his living selling joy on the water. His operates FiN Crazy Charters in Englewood.

“I like catching fish,” Riegsecker said. “I like watching people catch fish. I like watching people have fun.”

But Riegsecker’s recent charters haven’t been as fun, since a red tide bloom off Manasota Key left many fish floating around his boat.

Wednesday, Riegsecker spotted a dead sea turtle a few miles offshore.

“I’ve been able fortunately able to get away from it, having a bigger boat, getting offshore, getting away from all of it,” Riegsecker said.

When we went out with Riegsecker to that same spot, the site where dead fish were the day before had nearly cleared up.

“It changes with the tide,” explained Barry Roden, a professor at FGCU’s The Water School. “It changes with the wind direction, the changes with circulation patterns.”

Rosen said that’s why more dead fish wash ashore on some days compared to others, but that doesn’t mean the bloom is gone.

“The organisms can continue to grow and continue to populate,” Rosen said. “Let’s say they’re blown away from shore temporarily, doesn’t mean there aren’t cells remaining behind.”

Charlotte County is actively picking up dead marine life that washes ashore on Englewood Beach. Reminder: Homeowners are responsible for clearing dead fish off their own properties. The county has a dumpster at Chadwick Park for people to dispose of dead marine life.

  • Monday: The county filled 3 gator beds with dead fish collected from the beach (gator beds are 40 inches by 4 inches and 1 foot in depth).
  • Tuesday: 10 buckets
  • Wednesday: 10 buckets
  • Thursday: Less than 1 bucket

Captain Riegsecker knows these waters well. He’s ready to find families more clear spots in the Gulf if the smelly conditions return.

“They think they can’t go fishing, but there’s ways to get around it,” Riegsecker said.

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