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Sep 29, 2016

 

Red tide warning in effect for Lee, Charlotte Counties

Tim Wronka and Chris Lovingood

 

http://www.nbc-2.com/story/33281519/red-tide-warning-in-effect-for-lee-charlotte-counties#

 

The National Weather Service in Tampa Bay has issued a beach hazards statement for Lee and Charlotte Counties in regards to red tide through Saturday evening.

Other areas impacted by the warning include southern Manatee and northern Sarasota Counties.

Red tide, fish kill seen on Englewood Beach

Visitors in the northern counties reported the bad smell and complained of coughing, even in areas not right on the beach.

"There was some dead fish up on the beach. You could just feel it in the air," said visitor Jonathan Pearce. "We went outside this morning. Coughed as soon as we went outside, unfortunately. Kids were coughing."

After thousands of dead fish washed up on Englewood Beach, fish kills can be seen further south on Boca Grande. The fear of the fish kill coming south are more real.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the bloom responsible for these fish kills is showing little movement of coming south. However, there have been water samples showing red tide is present in Lee and Collier Counties.

FWC says they are always continuing to sample water and are keeping a close eye on where the algae bloom is going.

Sanibel free of red tide, for now

Even before the red algae blooms were spotted in Lee County waters, Sanibel leaders have kept a close eye on their shores. On Thursday, the city's southern waters were sampled and found no trace of a red bloom at the time of this writing.

Dr. Rick Bartleson of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation has his eyes on the tides in Sanibel. He knows red algae blooms are in the waters north of the island. The city and county regularly check water quality for red algae and toxins.

"Just only checked one spot, but you can also tell when it's out there from the smell usually, and we didn't smell any at the beach," Dr. Bartleson said.

He says that smell and the stench of dead fish can drive away tourists.

"I think it's a major issue," he said. "Certainly the reason for coming to Florida is for the coast and the water."

Mark and Lou Moeller are frequent Florida tourists. They say if the red tide appeared at their vacations spot, they wouldn't go.

"Absolutely I would just choose another place," Mark said. "It would be very disappointing to plan a trip down here thinking I'm going to do some fishing or out on the water then not be able to get in the water."

Coming in contact with these impacted waters can result in possible respiratory irritation, coughing, sneezing, and tearing eyes.

If you have asthma, emphysema, and other pulmonary diseases, you may be more sensitive.