What to Know
- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Wednesday that they've received reports of large fish kills in SW Florida
- Photos posted on social media show beaches strewn with dead fishes. Other photos show dead dolphins, manatees and turtles
State agencies are warning of a red tide outbreak in southwest Florida that's believed to be responsible for the deaths of hordes of fish and other sea life in recent days.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Wednesday that they've received reports of large fish kills at multiple locations in Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee and Collier County.
Photos posted on social media show beaches strewn with dead fishes. Other photos show dead dolphins, manatees and turtles.
On Tuesday, FWC officials said three dead female manatees were found among male manatees that were displaying mating behavior. Preliminary necropsy results showed the manatees' cause of death to be red tide-related.
Another manatee that was showing signs of red tide exposure was rescued the same day and brought to SeaWorld for recovery.
"We are committed to a comprehensive approach while we continue responding to the ongoing red tide event in southwest Florida, which we have been monitoring since late last year," FWC said in a statement last month.
The Florida red tide, also called Karenia brevis, produces neurotoxins called brevetoxins that can sicken or kill fish, seabirds, turtles, and marine mammals. The toxins can also affect humans, causing respiratory irritation or shellfish poisoning if shellfish contaminated with toxins are consumed.
Typically, red tide season is from late summer to early fall, and occurs nearly every year. The red tides can last as little as a few weeks or longer than a year. This year, the red tide has been around since at least the spring.
The FWC said they're working with the Florida Department of Health, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other groups on the issue.
Meanwhile, counties on the southwest coast are working to clean dead sea life off the beaches and out of the waterways amid complaints from residents, tourists and business owners. Lee County has even placed dumpsters specifically for residents to dispose of wish that have washed ashore due to red tide.
"Lee County is actively working to clean up the debris along our beaches as a result of the recent red tide bloom," Cecil Pendergrass, Chairman of the Lee Board of County Commissioners and the Tourist Development Council, said in a statement. "I will continue to strongly advocate for water quality improvements by working with our state and federal agencies, pushing for action.”