Here, there, everywhere: Red tide plagues SWFL after Hurricane Ian
Florida Department of Health officials in Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee, and Collier counties are issuing health alerts daily warning of the real and present danger to human and animals.
Red tide is everywhere.
From Tampa Bay south to Ten Thousand Islands, local groups and state agencies that test for and track red tide are warning that the harmful algae that kills fish, sickens dogs, and whose acrid air chase people off the beach is here.
And there. And there. And there.
Red tide was detected at every beach in Sarasota County soon after Hurricane Ian made landfall near Fort Myers in late September. Earlier this month, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission found the red tide organism, Karenia brevis, in nearly 100 samples throughout Southwest Florida. v Florida Department of Health officials in Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee, and Collier counties, taken as a group, are issuing health alerts daily warning of the real and present danger to human and animals.
The red tide is so prevalent, so pungent, and so potentially poisonous that the authors of the health advisories ignored the long-established practice of softening the language to avoid scaring away tourists.
“Stay away from the water,” a Charlotte County health advisory warned. “Do not swim in waters with dead fish. Wash your skin and clothing with soap and fresh water if you have had recent contact with red tide. Those with chronic respiratory problems should be especially cautious and stay away … as red tide can affect your breathing. Keep pets and livestock away and out of the water, sea foam and dead sea life. If your pet swims in waters with red tide, wash it as soon as possible. Do not harvest or eat molluscan shellfish or distressed or dead fish from this location. Residents may want to wear masks.”