As beaches continue to open back up, there’s also something else making a comeback in some areas – red tide.
Tarpon Bay on Sanibel has dead fish showing up. It’s the kind that leaves a little tickle in your throat after you smell it.
“A little funny tickle. It’s a particular kind of tickle that you know what it is,” said Mary Lou Mannino, who owns a home in Fort Myers.
The dead fish also causes coughing.
“I walked like a mile down the beach and back, but I mean, nothing that would make me leave. Takes a lot to make me leave the beach,” said Deb Kooistra, a beachgoer.
But the respiratory irritation and site of dead fish did turn a few people away.
Water samples taken on Monday showed medium concentrations of red tide.
“We were seeing the counts go down around Sanibel for about two weeks. But then they suddenly jumped up again, that’s more indicative of a packed patch of red tide coming by,” said Rick Bartleson a Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation research scientist. “It’s getting high enough where the water actually gets a little bit viscous and it sort of feels slippery.”
In 2018, coastal Southwest Florida experienced a bad red tide bloom.
“Right now it’s as bad as it was in at the beginning of 2018. But that that wasn’t when the bad problem started,” he said.
The bad problem started when summer came around. It’s too soon to predict whether this year will be as bad, Bartleson said.
Before heading to the beach, you may want to check the red tide counts.