City receives a warning about area algal bloom
On Friday, the City of Sanibel received an algal bloom notice from the Lee County Health Department, warning local residents and visitors about the presence of red tide in local waters.
“Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers have reported a large fish kill – about four miles across – 10 miles south of Sanibel,” the report stated.
As a result, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services immediately closed the Pine Island Sound west shellfish harvest area.
According to the Health Department report, the local cell counts for Karenia brevis collection – taken between Oct. 28 and 29 – samples from Tarpon Road Beach indicated a medium presence of bacteria (560,000 cells), which could cause respiratory irritation for humans. Those levels would also cause shellfish harvesting closures as well as fish kills.
At Lighthouse Beach, a very low cell count (2,000 cells) could make it possible for some respiratory irritation.
In the same report, South Seas Plantation on Captiva indicated 56,300 cells present, a low indicator for respiratory irritation and possible fish kills.
Other area waters sampled, including Bonita Beach Park, Lovers Key Park and Lynn Hall Park, indicated 0 cells present.
“There are very few issues we place a higher priority on than water quality,” City Manager Judie Zimomra said on Wednesday. “We are monitoring the situation extremely closely. This is a very important matter to us.”
On Tuesday afternoon, the City of Sanibel’s Natural Resources Department issued a Beach Conditions report:
Lighthouse Park – A few dead fish present at wrack line. Minor respiratory symptoms (sore throat, shortness of breath, coughing) that are normally associated with red tide outbreaks were noted on the bay side only. Near the fishing pier, on the bay side of the park, numerous, mostly small dead fish were noted, primarily several species of grunts.
Nerita to Fulgar Street Beach Access – This area of the island along Middle Gulf Drive currently has the most dead fish on the beach, with about one fish per eight feet of beach and some visible floating near the shore. Most were grunts and catfish. A large number of worm tubes have also washed up along this section and there is a fairly strong odor associated with both the fish and worm tubes.
Gulfside City Park – Approximately one small dead fish was observed for every 100 feet of shoreline was noted.
Tarpon Bay Road Beach Access to West Gulf Drive Beach Access No. 1 – No evidence of red tide was observed from Tarpon Bay Beach access to West Gulf Access 1.
West Gulf Drive Beach Access No. 5 and No. 7 – Dead fish were present on the beach at accesses 5 and 7 at a density of approximately one per 100 feet. Fish were primarily mullet and catfish and six to eight inch grunts. Two spider crabs were also observed.
Bowman’s Beach west to Blind Pass – At Bowman’s Beach west to Blind Pass, approximately one small dead fish per 100 feet was observed, with a higher density of about one fish every 10 feet observed at Turner Beach on Captiva Island. No respiratory irritation was noted at west end beaches.
“Actions taken by persons beyond our island sometimes have a tremendous impact on us,” Zimomra added. “That is why we must stay vigilant on the issue of water quality.”
For more information regarding algal blooms, contact the City of Sanibel’s Natural Resources Department at 472-3700 or the Lee County Health Department at 239-332-9657.