While Charlotte and Sarasota waters remain clear of the toxic red tide algae, southern Lee and northern Collier counties aren’t so lucky.
Mote Marine Laboratory at visitbeaches.org reported that people at Bonita Beach and Lovers Key in Lee County complained of respiratory irritations, and dead fish washing ashore.
Meanwhile, a few miles south, respiratory irritations and dead fish washing ashore also were reported for Collier County beaches.
Coughing and other respiratory irritations, coupled with fish kills, can indicate a thickening growth of a red tide bloom.
Mote’s reports correspond to what the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is reporting.
“A bloom of the red tide organism, Karenia brevis, was observed in Southwest Florida over the past week,” FWC spokeswoman Michelle Kerr said Monday.
The FWC posts an interactive map on myfwc.com with results of water samples taken throughout Florida in the last eight days.
No dead fish or irritation has been reported in Charlotte County or Sarasota County waters.
According to recent water samples, Pine Island Sound is farthest north that low concentrations of red tide turned up in water samples. But high concentrations — one million or more cells in a liter of water — turned up in three samples from Barefoot Beach, Wiggins Pass and Vanderbilt Beach in Collier County.
Naples beaches also saw low concentrations in its water samples.
Red tide algae — Karina brevis — is natural to the Gulf in “background” concentrations of less than 1,000 cells per liter of water. The algae toxins are released when the cells break up primarily due to wave action.
When concentrations exceed 100,000 cells per liter of water, people start experiencing lung and other heath irritations. The high concentrations trigger fish kills.
The FWC encourages the public to report of a fish kill online, via the FWC Reporter app, or call the Fish Kill Hotline at 800-636-0511. For more information, visit myfwc.com.