CHARLOTTE HARBOR — Dead fish are washing up throughout Charlotte Harbor.
The cause: toxic red tide algae.
The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission received five reports over the last three days of fish kills.
Fish are showing up from the mouths of the Myakka and Peace rivers into Charlotte Harbor to the Port Charlotte Beach Complex and south to Gasparilla Sound near Placida and Boca Grande, where Charlotte Harbor empties into the Gulf.
“You can smell the dead fish, and we start coughing as soon as we go out back behind our home in Port Charlotte,” Grassy Point resident Michelle Bogan said in an email Tuesday. “There are a lot of dead fish washing up and floating in the harbor.”
Wildlife officials also posted Tuesday on myfwc.com three water samples taken from Charlotte Harbor of which two taken April 16 contained medium concentrations — 100,000 to 1 million algae cells per liter of water.
A third sample, taken April 13 at Hog Island near El Jobean, between the mouths of the Myakka and Peace rivers, showed a low concentration of red tide, 10,000 to 100,000 cells per liter of water.
“On Friday, (wildlife commission) staff in the Peace and Myakka Rivers found dead catfish, ladyfish, snook, seatrout, sand perch and schools of dead bait fish,” Fish Kill Hotline Coordinator C.E. Brown stated in an email to Punta Gorda resident Martin Blaustein.
“While on the water, staff experienced respiratory irritation and they noted strong odors, which could indicate the presence of red tide in the area,” Brown said.
Samples taken in the Gulf of Mexico in recent days don’t show signs of the red tide algae off Manasota Key, according to the results of water samples posted online Tuesday.
However, water samples taken further north last week from North Jetty Beach in Nokomis to New Pass in Sarasota have turned up low and medium concentrations of red tide. No fish kills have been reported, along with some minor respiratory irritation.
To learn more about red tide, visit myfwc.com.