Red tide isn’t keeping people off South Marco Beach

Reporter: Lauren Leslie Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:

The Florida Department of Health in Collier County has issued a health alert due to red tide near South Marco Beach.

Beachgoers said they noticed something while by the water. Some were aware of the red tide, and others didn’t know why they were coughing. The one thing everyone said is that it’s been a lot worse.

Despite the Department of Health warning, South Marco Beach was packed on Wednesday.

“Everybody is trying to have a good time,” said Bill Olschewske.

There are signs warning beachgoers of the presence of red tide in the area.

“Before it’s been, you can definitely smell, you can see the dead fish,” said June Castle.

Red tide isn’t impacting Marco Island as it has in the past, and vacationers say they’ve experienced far worse.

“Probably two and a half years ago, we went to Bonita. We unpacked, walked down to the beach, and we turned around about five feet once we got on, like before you even got to the sand, like you couldn’t even breathe,” said Joey Bouchard, who was visiting from Maine.

On South Marco Beach, “Little scratch in the throat for me, and we were down, and we were down at the beach earlier. He’s been sneezing and coughing a little bit,” said Bouchard.

Those are some symptoms you may experience near a red tide bloom.

“I think when you go down on the sand is really when you start to feel that little tickle in your throat, and when you get near the water, set up your chairs and umbrellas and stuff like that, it’s just something that you notice other people coughing you don’t usually hear that so much and so you start to you no wonder why you know, and it’s just something that has been more prevalent I think in the last week or so that I have noticed,” said Olschewske.

Water samples taken Monday showed the presence of red tide. The Florida Department of Health in Collier County warns people to stay out of the water.

Residents and visitors are also advised to take the following precautions:

  • Look for informational signage posted at most beaches.
  •  Stay away from the water, and do not swim in waters with dead fish.
  • Those with chronic respiratory problems should be especially cautious and stay away
    from this location as red tide can affect your breathing.
  • Do not harvest or eat molluscan shellfish, or distressed or dead fish from this location. If
    caught live and healthy, finfish are safe to eat as long as they are filleted and the guts
    are discarded. Rinse fillets with tap or bottled water.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and fresh water if you have had recent contact
    with red tide.
  • Keep pets and livestock away and out of the water, sea foam and dead sea life. If your
    pet swims in waters with red tide, wash it as soon as possible.
  • Residents living in beach areas are advised to close windows and run the air
    conditioner, making sure that the A/C filter is maintained according to manufacturer’s
  • If outdoors near an affected location, residents may choose to wear masks, especially if
    onshore winds are blowing.

WINK News saw many people scratching their eyes and coughing at the beach on Wednesday.

The Florida Department of Health encourages you to avoid the beach altogether if you have any respiratory issues.

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