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J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge feels affects of red tide

The beaches of Sanibel have produced more than 300 tons of dead sea life alone.

But at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, manager Nate Caswell said “we haven’t actually cleaned up any fish.”

“We felt that a visit to the refuge should be an accurate depiction of what’s going on in the environment,” Caswell said.

The refuge welcomed special visitors Wednesday, including the National Wildlife Federation CEO, seeing Florida animals for the first time.

“It’s important to share the experience of the refuge and what’s transpiring here with these organizations because they can help be a voice to the rest of the country or the world of what’s going on here,” Caswell said.

They saw dead fish washed along the shores and animals poisoned by red tide.

“It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my life … with the mass die off of sea life,” Caswell said.

Caswell said he hopes the experience influences guests to speak for change.

“I would love to see water management policy, not just with agriculture and Lake Okeechobee but in residential areas be improved to the point that we definitely don’t see a repeat of what has happened here in the last few weeks,” Caswell said.

Reporter:Melinda Lee
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