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Red Tide patches continue to bloom

By Staff | Nov 16, 2012

Courtesy of SCCF Dead fish have been spotted floating in a few areas near the Sanibel shorline.

The Lee County Health Department advises beach goers and boaters to be wary of spotty patches of red tide that can cause respiratory irritation in susceptible people.

“There will be some respiratory irritation if the wind blows from the south or west on the beaches,” said Dr. Eric Milbrandt, director of the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation Marine Laboratory. “Since we have had north winds blowing offshore there has not been widespread respiratory irritation.”

Beach goers are advised to wear shoes when walking on the sand to avoid the possibility of a puncture wound from fish bones, especially catfish spines. Shell fishing is closed through the county waterways; however shell fish sold at restaurants and stores is safe to eat.

Staff from the health department, Lee County Parks and Recreation and SCCF Marine Laboratory continue to monitor beaches for signs of red tide blooms. Results show spotty patches of the toxin creating fish kills and discolored water.

Based on recent observations, Bunche Beach near the Sanibel Causeway and Gulfside beach access at Algiers Lane, Tarpon Bay beach and Tarpon Bay at “Ding” Darling Preserve experienced a few days with various amounts of dead fish and odor.

“The bloom intensified on the bay side, with dead fish and patches of red tide along Wildlife Drive in Tarpon Bay and around the power lines,” said Milbrandt. “More recently the counts seem to be moderate, but still patchy.”

People can still enjoy the beaches; however, those with asthma or chronic respiratory impairments need to be aware of the beach conditions where red tide impacts are reported.

Due to high levels of red tide along the Sanibel Causeway, the annual “Ding” Darling Kids Fishing Derby originally scheduled for Nov. 17 has been postponed. A new date has not been set.