Drift algae on Fort Myers Beach, July 27, 2018.

Red Tide Impact: toxic water is killing sea-life and affecting beachgoers

Red tide continues to ravage the coastline in Southwest Florida.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation is expected to release an updated report on red tide conditions Friday afternoon.

The toxic water is killing sea-life including sea turtles, fish and even a whale shark that washed up on the shores of Sanibel.

A red tide hazard notice was issued for parts of Charlotte and Collier counties Monday through Thursday.

MORE: Red tide hazard issued for portions of Charlotte, Collier counties

*Story continues below map.

Red tide map: July 27, 2018.

Fort Myers Beach

The smell of dead fish is pungent at Newton Beach Park on Fort Myers Beach Friday, and you can smell it before you even get there.

Red tide is the suspected killer of the dead fish that litter the shore and it’s causing a stink for visitors.

On other parts of Fort Myers Beach, the sea life was floating in the water or starting to decay on the sand.

And for some the harmful algae blooms are making the air harder to breathe, saying they’re coughing, sneezing and have a scratch throat that seemingly comes out of nowhere.

Ride tide hazards are raising concerns for some who are iffy about making a trip back.

Beachfront rentals say the red tide has caused a business downturn, but are still getting a few brave customers.

Some visitors said word of the water conditions in Southwest Florida is making its way up North and annual visitors are worried about coming down.

Red tide hazards on Fort Myers Beach could continue into the weekend.

North Fort Myers

Al Amster of North Fort Myers has been dealing algae in his canal, “It’s the worst. You look at it, it’s high and has stuff floating in it and it stinks like hell.”

But there’s good news. Lee County commissioners have officially declared a local state of emergency, meaning they now have the funding to begin removing this gunk from highly concentrated areas next week.

According to the commissioners, Amster’s Waterway Estates neighborhood will be done first, which he likes to hear “If they clean it up I’ll be really happy.”

AECOM, a private engineering firm hired for the clean up, will be sucking the algae off the surface, like a giant vacuum.

Bobbie Eisenmann says it’s about time, and now she doesn’t have to worry about the wildlife, “We have ducks, them muscovy [ducks] are having babies and bringing them down this canal. And yesterday I saw them and they were getting this green sludge, and tiny little babies only a couple days old.”

Charlotte County

One of the solutions being discussed is reducing the amount of fertilizers and pesticides pesticides people use along with restoring water flow to the Everglades.

People in Charlotte were getting ready to rally Friday afternoon after red tide caused another massive fishkill in the area.

Palm Harbour Marina resident Penny Ritchey says she went out and bought a mask to deal with the stench from thousands of dead fish floating in her marina, “I was coughing a lot and it was really stinky … it makes you sick you know. It makes you sick at heart and sick in your body you know.”

Marina manager Robert linn says nearly two dozen residents of the marina were complaining about the effects of red tide, “It was almost as if you could walk across the fish last night … it was extremely horrendous. we actually had some of our residents leave the area that live aboard the boats and they… started coughing and wheezing and they just had to move inland because it was so bad.”

That prompted him to shutdown the marina and its restaurant.

Linn says he and staff cleared and pulled more than three-thousand pounds of dead fish from the water.

A beach advisory has been issued for Charlotte County, warning people to stay out of the water because of the high bacteria levels.

In Englewood, homeowners like Jodie and Rick Koster are worried that red tide has made its way into their canals, killing off more fish and impacting their daily lives.

“I’m concerned with the breathing and trying to live a normal life … you can’t sit out by the pool, you cant, I mean you can’t do anything right now and it’s just going to get worse,” Jodie said.

She says they’ll be at Friday’s strategy meeting to learn more about the ongoing problem, “We’ve got to do something because this is our paradise and is turning into a cesspool.”

Everyone we talked to said this is the worse red tide they’ve experienced in decades, which is why they’re now getting involved to try and stop it from getting worse.

The FWC offer the following red tide information resources:
• Red Tide Fact Sheet: https://bit.ly/2LAvixg
• Florida Department of Health: https://bit.ly/2LnAEMX
• Mote Marine Laboratory Beach Condition Reporting System: https://visitbeaches.org/
• USF Collaboration for the Prediction of Red Tides (CPR): https://bit.ly/2JTw5oc
• NOAA Harmful Algal Bloom Operational Forecast System (HAB-OFS): https://bit.ly/2JXZ6z4
• Social media: https://www.facebook.com/FLHABs/
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