SANIBEL, Fla.- Traces of red tide are once again showing up off the Southwest Florida coastline. Florida Fish and Wildlife say low levels were found from Charlotte Harbor to Pine Island Sound. And we're learning tonight, this could be the effect of an abundance of nutrients that flowed down stream with the fresh water from Lake Okeechobee.
To the naked eye, the Gulf of Mexico is starting to look more like we're used too seeing it, but what you can't see, is underneath the surface, a red algae drift is blooming.
"It's bad for the se grass beds because it can prevent light from reaching the sea grasses," said SCCF Research Scientist, Richard Bartleson
The ecosystem was hit hard when the fresh water from Lake Okeechobee was released..
"When you do have a high flow year, that's what usually causes red drift algae to accumulate and drift up."
A large amount of nutrients moved down river and mixed with the gulfs salt water allowing the red drift algae to feed and grow. WINK got exclusive video of a scientist collecting under water samples to study the algae.
"We've started taking samples off shore and started looking at samples in shore where we are seeing the higher levels of macro algae."
And yet another water quality issue, according to FWC, low levels of red tide is looming in our waters.
"Red tide poisoning can be a very impactful, very deadly disease," said CROW Hospital Director, Dr. Heather Barron.
And this bird is believed to be have ingested the toxin, it has been under the watchful eye of crow.
"Some animals have neurologic signs, they can be down, depressed, weezing, acting like their drunk, unable to get balance and unable to fly."
The red tide poison lingers in the animals system for at least 7 days... ..
"we make sure they are able to fly, able to perch and back to their normal behaviors."
CROW tells us that bird you saw being treated, is part of a larger study with Mote Marine. They have teamed up to help come up with a drug that will help treat the red tide toxin. As far as the algae goes, scientist will continue to sample and study. The public is not in any danger.