Recent dolphin deaths in SWFL raises concerns

You go to the beach to see the waves, beautiful shore and dolphins — not dead sea life carried away on a golf cart. But that is what happened after a dolphin washed ashore Monday at Barefoot Beach, and it’s not the first one

Florida, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials have taken away at least five dead dolphins from Southwest Florida beaches in the past few days.

“It’s always a turtle, a dolphin, or even just little bait fish,” Colleen Gill said. “It breaks my heart every time.”

No matter what kind of marine life washes ashore, it is not something anyone wants along the beach.

The continued loss of marine life hit Gill hard when she stumbled upon the dead dolphin on Naples Beach this morning.

“Normal red tide should not be doing this to the dolphins,” Gill said. “It should not be impacting this much of a large population, especially large creatures like them.”

Fishing guide captain Tony Fontana of Naples Saltwater Fishing fears the lingering red tide is also to blame for several recent dolphin deaths in Collier County.

“To me it’s sad,” Fontana said. “It’s just as sad as any other sea life that’s dying. I mean, it strikes home with us humans because they’re mammals.”

Off Vanderbilt Beach, the presence of red tide is also noticeable. There are dead fish and birds lining the beach.

“It is concerning, as did we choose the right place to purchase a second home we’re thinking of retiring in? Brian Pulis said. “It’ll be interesting to see next year’s numbers.”

NOAA researches have linked nearly 80 stranded dolphins to the blooms this year. Fontana believes this tragic number is a sign.

“Our water quality is becoming more and more poor,” Fontana said.

Scientists will have to run tests on these dolphins to see if red tide killed them.

NOAA said it is crucial to report a dead dolphin sighting.

“If it’s what it’s eating, then we know that the fish are still sick,” Gill said. “And it’s still very much a problem in the water, so it’s a bigger issue than everyone’s coming to grasp.”

Reporter:Hannah Vogel
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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