Red Tide persisting in some SWFL waters

Reporter: Elizabeth Biro Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:
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Some areas of Charlotte, Collier, and Lee County are dealing with Red Tide. 

While the water at Bonita Beach doesn’t smell bad, look bad, or leave an odd feeling in your throat, the bird’s eye view shows some concerning images. 

From Ten Thousand Islands up to Sanibel and in between, red, green, and brown colors can be seen in the water. 

WINK News spoke with Mike Parsons, a professor at the Water School at FGCU, about the situation. 

“Whenever we see things like this, it’s really interesting because you kind of wonder what is making the water that color,” Parsons said.

While the drastic color display can be alarming, Parsons said it’s not always concerning. 

“Just because the water is discolored, or a different color, let’s say doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a red tide or something bad happening,” Parsons said. 

Parsons said there’s something missing from the video that you’d likely see in a bad red tide bloom, wind rows on the water, or lines of dead fish. But if that isn’t visible then what’s causing the discoloration?

“You’ll have some of your estuary water, discharging offshore, sometimes it’ll be discolored, because of things like tannins. And so that’s what gives the water that kind of brown tea color,” Parsons said.

Aerial view of discolored water. CREDIT RALPH ARWOOD

There is definitely Red Tide on display somewhere in the video taken, but Parsons said you can’t tell just from the video, you’d need to see that water under a microscope. 

“When you look at a typical red tide, it usually ends now,” Parsons said. “And it’s still there. So it’s a little unusual. Is that related to hurricane ian? Or is that just, you know, nature?”

WINK News went out on a boat with a research team at the end of last week off Sanibel. The water had medium concentrations of Red Tide cells. Some discoloration was seen, but nothing like what is shown on the aerial view.

At Bonita Beach, there are no dead fish nor effects of Red Tide.

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