270 tons of dead fish and marine life have washed ashore from red tide

Lighthouse Beach Park on Sanibel Island wasn’t empty Friday afternoon, and the city is reporting good conditions from here, all the way to Turner Beach. The hope is that red tide stays away.

Visitor Ken Newkirk noticed a difference from his last visit, “Last year the beaches were just full, this year’s there’s hardly anybody out at all. The smell was just horrible, you couldn’t walk on the beach.”

With the more than 270 tons of dead fish and marine life that have washed up in the midst of the red tide crisis, Sanibel beaches have been pretty empty lately.

All over Southwest Florida, tourism businesses and hotels are taking a hard hit, especially when red tide happens during low-season for tourism.

Friday, Sanibel beaches saw what city leaders are calling a big improvement in water conditions. And visitors are thanking busy clean up crews for extra efforts.

“When we first got here there was a lot of dead sea life washed up on the shore and the guys that are going around now are doing a very good job of getting everything picked up,” Newkirk said.

Contrary to bigger dead marine life like dead grouper floating in the water, the 30 bags clean up crews scooped up by noon today were mostly just small fish.

Tourism businesses also hope red tide conditions keep getting better so beaches start getting back to normal.

According to the city, the only area with red tide respiratory irritation this morning has been a moderate amount on the far northwest end of the island.

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