Published: Nov 07, 2012 2:11 PM EST
Updated: Nov 07, 2012 2:21 PM EST

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- The Lee County Health Department advises beach goers and boaters to be wary of spotty patches of red tide that can cause respiratory irritation in susceptible people.

Beach goers are advised to wear shoes when walking on the sand to avoid the possibility of a puncture wound from fish bones, especially catfish spines. Shell fishing is closed throughout Lee County waterways; however shell fish sold at restaurants and stores is safe to eat.

Staff from the health department, Lee County Parks and Recreation and Mote Marine Laboratories continues to monitor beaches for signs of red tide. Results show spotty patches of the toxin creating fish kills, discolored water and minor respiratory irritation mostly in open water, but occasionally coming ashore on local beaches.

Based on observations taken Wednesday morning, Bunche Beach near the Sanibel Causeway, and the Gulfside beach access at Algiers Lane, Tarpon Bay beach and Tarpon Bay at Ding Darling Preserve experienced a few days with various amounts of dead fish and odor. Some respiratory irritation was noted from the red tide bloom offshore.

Local officials say people can still enjoy the beaches, however, those with asthma or chronic respiratory impairments need to be aware of beach conditions where red tide impacts are reported. Those who experience symptoms should move to another beach without reports of red tide.

The Mote Marine Laboratory's Beach Conditions Report is updated at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily. Reports can be viewed online at www.mote.org/beaches. Residents and visitors can also register to receive email reports about specific beaches. For telephone updates, call 941-BEACHES (232-2437).