Water Conditions, Fort Myers Beach

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October 31, 2019

Red Tide: The Red Tide bloom of Karenia brevis that first appeared along the SWFL coastline in late September now includes Pinellas, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties. The October 30, 2019 Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Red Tide report states: “In Southwest Florida over the past week,  K. brevis was observed at very low concentrations offshore of Pinellas County, background to medium concentrations in Sarasota County, very low to medium concentrations in Charlotte County, very low to high concentrations in and/or offshore of Lee County, and background to high concentrations in and/or offshore of Collier County. Bloom concentrations (> 100,000 cells per liter) were observed in five samples from Sarasota County, two samples from Charlotte County, seven samples from and offshore of Lee County and nine samples from and offshore of Collier County. Three samples from or offshore of Lee County and five samples from Collier County contained high concentrations of K. brevis (>1 million cells per liter).”

Fish kill and respiratory irritation reports were received in Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties. To report dead fish, call 800-636-0511 or go to bit.ly/FWCfishkill

CROW wildlife hospital on Sanibel has treated 29 animals for Red Tide symptoms in the past week, with 25 of them succumbing to the algae’s effects. Turtle Time, Inc. reports that they have found 20 dead adult sea turtles on the beaches they monitor, including Bunche Beach, Fort Myers Beach and Bonita Beach since October 1.

Red drift algae continues to wash up on some areas of Fort Myers Beach but is not affecting all beaches.

Summary: Red Tide levels have risen over the past week, with FWC testing showing Very Low to High concentrations of K. brevis along and offshore of Fort Myers Beach.

Red Tide Basics

 Florida Red Tide is an elevated concentration of a microscopic algae, most commonly Karenia brevis (K. brevis) that grows in salt or brackish water. It is not the same as Red Drift Algae, which is a macro algae that looks like seaweed that washes onto the beach. Red Tide can only be seen under a microscope.

FWC-Red-Tide-chart
FWC-Red-Tide-chart

Red Tide is a natural occurrence and was first reported hundreds of years ago. Yet much remains unknown about the blooms. Scientists say that the blooms form out in the Gulf. If they drift toward land, nutrients in the water can ‘feed’ the blooms.

The FWC states that Red Tide can be harmful to humans and animals. K. brevis produces brevetoxins that can lead to fish kills. Those with weakened immune systems or respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema or COPD are at increased risk of respiratory irritation, especially if the wind is blowing onshore.

The FWC advises that swimming is safe for most people in water with Red Tide, but it can cause skin and eye irritation. They advise anyone experiencing irritation to leave the water and shower thoroughly. Others advise avoiding water affected by Red Tide and seeking out another beach. Do not swim among dead fish due to harmful bacteria. Keep pets away from Red Tide.

Residents and visitors can check the latest water quality reports with these links:

Florida Red Tide: bit.ly/RedTideFL

SCCF Reports: bit.ly/SCCFreport

FMB Chamber of Commerce: bit.ly/CCisp