Submitted by Maria Lamb
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), red tide, also known as harmful algae blooms (HABs), occurs when microscopic algae multiply to higher than normal concentrations. The most common species is Karenia brevis, the Florida red tide organism.
As the wind blows the toxic aerosol towards shore, it can also produce respiratory reaction such as coughing, sneezing, or tearing. These effects are generally temporary and should vanish once you leave the beach. However, for people with severe respiratory conditions like emphysema or asthma, be sure to bring along your short-acting inhaler.
For some, red tide also cause skin irritation. Avoid swimming near dead fish, as they are associated with the harmful bacteria.
Fish kills are the most noticeable effects of HABs. Bo Sorrentino, a regular morning beach walker, counted 100 dead Blow fish that were approximately 5-7 inches in length from South Beach to the beaches North of Residents Beach. He also observed several large Goliath Groupers about 50-60 pounds each, and assorted types of eels.
Most of these dead fish are found along the tide line. The Collier County morning raker is not equipped to collect the dead fish. According to Adam DiNuovo, of Audubon, Florida, Sand Dollar Island also has dead fish both on and off shore.
“While there may be some dead fish that end up on the beach, most will stay in the water just offshore and will wash back out to the ocean in several tidal cycles,” City of Marco Island Environmental Planner Tonia Selmeski said. “A fish kill sight/smell is never a pleasant situation, but it should correct itself.”
Collier County does not remove dead fish from beaches unless a public health issue arises, which generally occurs with a higher fish kill.