Red tide blooms appearing along the Southwest Florida coast

Reporter: Elizabeth Biro Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:

Red tide is appearing up and down the Southwest Florida coastline, but is it an issue you should be concerned with?

Red tide. (Credit: Calusa Waterkeeper)

These are pictures of where the cleaner water ends and the red tide begins. The Calusa Waterkeeper posted the pictures on Facebook.

Under Blind Pass Bridge between Captiva and Sanibel, the tide forms rows of dead fish. They range in size and type, and the stench is nearly unbearable. You can smell it before you get out of the car, and it comes with you after.

This is the last thing Southwest Florida needs as we recover from Ian. In an area, working day in and day out to put the pieces back together. There’s another battle making waves on our beaches.

“Nothing but dead fish. But I mean, the smell reminds me of down the bayou. So it doesn’t really bother me. But everybody keeps saying it’s this red tide,” said Nyree Smith II.

Fishing pole in hand, Smith said he came down from Louisiana to work and help out. He expected destruction but didn’t expect the red tide or the health impacts that could come with it.

“It was a scratchy throat, made me cough,” said Smith.

From above, the water is a discolored green, brown, and rusty red.

Red tide. (Credit: Calusa Waterkeeper)

“I mean, it’s bad. We can smell it. I thought it was my pool. But I knew, I know better. I mean, it’s that time of the year,” said Greg Stoneback, a Sanibel resident.

Stoneback is originally from Michigan. He bought a house on Sanibel because he loves to fish, but not in water like this.

“My wife loves to shell, and we walk up and down the beach. And you can feel it. You can smell it. I have asthma. So it even is a little bit more. It affects me a little worse,” said Stoneback.

On the beaches of Sanibel and Captiva, you have to watch your step. Dead fish don’t cover the beach as they did after Irma in 2018, but you can see and smell their presence.

Elizabeth Jensen has lived in Sanibel for 40 years. To her, it isn’t that bad or shocking.

“This is the time of year that it comes. It’s this time every single year, and to me, this has been, it’s the mildest case being in the marina business, being in the business of boat rentals and whatnot for as many years as we were. This is a very, very, very mild case,” Jensen said.

Still, Lee and Collier counties both issued health alerts for the blooms. They say to stay away from the water, especially if you have breathing issues, and don’t try to remove the dead fish yourself.

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