A red tide bloom that’s been lingering off the coast of Sarasota and Charlotte counties has made it to Lee County waters, where fish kills are being reported at some local beaches.
Red tide (Karenia brevis) is a naturally occurring organism that can become deadly when conditions are right.
Concentrations can cause marine life kills and respiratory issues in humans once red tide level concentrations reach 100,000 cells per liter. Recent measurements in the Lee County area have been as high as 2 million cells per liter.
“It’s mostly north (of the Bonita Springs area),” said Mike Parsons, a Florida Gulf Coast University professor and researcher and member of the state’s Blue-Green Algae Task Force. “We are seeing a little bit at Matanzas Pass and reports of it in northern Estero Bay.”
Calusa Waterkeeper John Cassani said the timing isn’t surprising but the scope of the bloom is troubling.
“I think one of the things that concerns me is the wide distribution, from Manatee county at least down to Fort Myers Beach,” he said. “We’re getting reports of fish kills, lots of reports.”