I’m writing in response to Jory Westberry’s article of January 24th discussing red tide. Although the Coastal Breeze’s Maria Lamb wrote a strong and well researched article on the same topic (January 7th)….this article was a soft sell dismissal of the Florida water quality issues.
Ms. Westberry asked: What are the ramifications if our local birds are affected?
Hundreds of dead and dying seabirds have piled up on SW Florida beaches in the last 3 years. I am a volunteer for Audubon, and I personally have helped transport many of those birds to the Conservancy with red tide effects. She should have spoken with local seabird biologist with Audubon Florida, Adam Dinuovo, about his observations. The last 3 years of red tide have been devastating to our shore and sea bird populations. She could also talk to the Conservancy here in Naples, or CROW up in Sanibel. They have been overwhelmed with birds that were sick from red tide.
Another question asked: What about our resident dolphins, manatees, and sea turtles?
She should speak with Jill Schmidt or Sarah Norris, sea turtle biologists at Rookery Bay. In the fall of 2019, we had historic numbers of dead sea turtles on our beaches from red tide.
It would also be advisable to consult with the Water School professors at FGCU. Another good idea, reach out to the Calusa Waterkeepers.
This article supports the false notion that the red tides we are experiencing are natural. Yes, karenia brevis algal bloom is naturally occurring, but NO, fourteen months of a severe red tide is not natural.
I fear that the public, once again, will use Ms. Westberry’s article to discount the severe problems we have with water quality.
As Julie Wraithmell, director of Audubon Florida, said in Maria Lamb’s article of January 7th: “Everyone has a role to play in this. The nutrients that are in red tide come from everything from septic tanks to fertilizer on lawns.”
The red tides we are experiencing are escalating and strengthening. This is not normal. If we continue to do nothing to address this issue, tourism, our health, and our environment will all suffer. And we are not even discussing the pathogens from septic tank leakage in this state……and the cyanobacteria escalating in our fresh water systems.
We should all be pushing our government agencies to strengthen pollution standards, monitoring, and enforcement of those standards.
Again, this article is encouraging our citizens to look away from a looming disaster. I urge readers to refer to the January 7th article on red tide, which is well researched and current on the situation.