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Red tide, fish kills hit Southwest Florida beaches


Red tide and thousands
of dead fish are now officially on the beaches of Southwest
Florida. We snapped captured pictures of dead fish on the
shorelines of Cayo Costa, Cabbage Key, and Ussepa Island.

Officially, the red tide
bloom is about two to 12 miles off the Lee and Charlotte coasts from Gasparilla Pass to Captiva in low to medium
concentrations in Pine Island Sound.

People we spoke to are hoping for
the best, but bracing for the worst.
"We got here a couple of hours
ago and just noticed how many there were- everywhere," said beachgoer Maureen

Just two days ago we groups of dead fish from a helicopter off of Cayo Costa.
And now, those thousands of dead fish are hitting shore.

"It's pretty gross. I'm not even
used to the ocean, so to come here and see all these dead fish is kind of
unpleasant," said another beachgoer, Eric Fical.

The FWC says the fish kill was caused
by red tide.

"It's a phytoplankton that
happens to produce toxins that are poisonous to animals with backbones,"
explained Dr. Bruce Neill, a marine biologist with the Sanibel Sea

In the water, the red tide paralyzes
fish's gills - causing them to suffocate and wash up on beaches.

But red tide can affect people on land as well.

"The chemicals that produce the
poison in red tide are very small but can drift up into the air and become aerosolized
- we call it ANS - then they can bother people and cause respiratory problems,"
said Neill.

That is something both Petrie and
Fical said they experienced.

"We started coughing a little bit," Petrie

Friday, they're hoping for a day-without
the stench.

"We're staying on Fort Myers Beach and there's no dead fish there,"
Fical said.

But experts say that area could be

"The fish could blow in on the
winds you feel blowing on your back right now," Dr. Neill said.

FWC will
retest the Gulf water Friday and release their all inclusive report just before
the weekend.

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