PINE ISLAND SOUND — The toxic red tide algae does not want to leave Lee County waters.
Since last month, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission collected water samples from Lee and Collier counties that have turned up water samples tainted with red tide cells in medium and low concentrations.
Toxic levels of red tide haven’t turned up in water samples taken anywhere else in Florida, including Charlotte and Sarasota counties.
Last week, red tide appeared to be subsiding, limited to five out of 10 water samples taken from Pine Island Sound. Those were the only water samples in Lee and Collier counties that showed any signs of red tide.
According to the interactive map posted on myfwc.com Friday, 12 out of 22 water samples turned up with low and medium concentrations of red tide from the Boca Grande Pass, in Pine Island Sound, south to Gulf waters five miles south of Sanibel Island.
Water samples taken from Redfish Pass on Monday, and one taken from Buck Key a week ago turned up medium concentrations, 100,000 to 1 million cells per liter of water. Last week medium concentrations turned up in water samples taken offshore from Fort Myers.
The map showed no water samples collected from Collier County. The Wildlife Commission updates the map at 5 p.m. each weekday with what turns up in water samples within the last eight days.
Mote Marine Laboratory also posts its daily beach conditions on visitbeaches.org.
According to a Mote report from Lynn Hall Beach Park in Lee County Wednesday, people suffered from respiratory irritations, a typical symptom of red tide when bloom concentrations reach 100,000 cells or more. Medium to high concentrations can also kill fish and other marine life.
No respiratory irritations were reported on other Gulf beaches. Also, reports on habforecast.gcoos.org anticipate low chances of experiencing respiratory irritations on Southwest Florida beaches.
Since the beginning of February, the Wildlife Commission received reports of eight fish kills due to red tide. Six were in Lee County, primarily in Bonita Beach, and two in the Naples area. None were reported in Charlotte or Sarasota counties.
The red tide algae, Karina brevis, is natural to the Gulf. The problem for humans and marine life is whenever a red tide bloom exceeds 100,000 or more cells per liter of water.