Red tide on Marco Island presents issue for marine life, birds

There’s the bird’s eye view we’re used to—beautiful beaches with white sands and blue waters—and then there’s the “fish eye view” that shows the real time impact of red tide: shorebirds picking at dead fish washed ashore on Marco Island.

“My heart is totally broken,” said Kathy Graf, who lives on Marco Island. She had plans to walk the beach, but one look and one sniff turned her away.

“I couldn’t even breathe when I got down there. I was coughing,” she said.

The most common human health problems caused by red tide are respiratory or gastrointestinal.

“There’s gotta be a respect for life,” said Graf. “We’ve got to wake up, wake up people and rise up to the fact that your Earth is dying and we’re responsible.”

On Wednesday, some beachgoers sat toward the back of the beach, avoiding the shoreline.

“Quite a few dead fish and a lot of birds enjoying that,” said Bob McMahon of Marco Island.

And some startling photos of sea turtles were also shared with us. A sea turtle was found dead of Marco Island Wednesday Morning. Red tide is not confirmed to be the cause of its death. But heavy red tide traces have been recorded of the coast of Marco recently.

Credit” Shared with WINK News.


Red tide map as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. Credit: WINK News.

“There’s some dead fish. They’re missing their eye balls a few of them. It’s a little stinky and a little funky,” said Dada Kamelesky, also of Marco Island.

Wildlife experts say even medium levels of red tide, like we’re seeing now, will not only strike marine life, but also the many birds who live and eat along the shore.

The Audubon of the Western Everglades says they’re hopeful the state’s new Red Tide Task Force will help reduce these impacts.

They’re a team of scientists studying, in part, how to prevent and clean up existing pollution. They’ll make those recommendations to the state in what could be enforceable laws or restoration plans.

Collier County’s red tide expert says the red tide we’re seeing now in no way compares to last year.

They county says they rake their beaches daily, which includes removing the dead fish.

On Friday, Oct. 4, a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle was rescued in the water off Marco Island. It was taken to Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (C.R.O.W.) on Sanibel Island. And caretakers hope it will recover and continue to survive.

Credit: Shared with WINK News.
Writer:Briana Harvath
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