Dead sea life, red drift algae piled up on Fort Myers Beach

Published: October 20, 2019 6:27 PM EDT
Updated: December 6, 2019 11:32 AM EST

Beachgoers felt the effects of water quality issues along some Southwest Florida beaches this weekend.

John Cassani, ecologist and founder of Calusa Waterkeeper, says red tide continues to cause fish kills along Fort Myers Beach Sunday, while the beach is also lined with piles of what appears to be red drift algae.

“We’ve had the red tide in the area for the last couple of weeks,” Cassani said. “We’re seeing mostly moderate levels of red tide, which is high enough to kill fish, and crabs and other sea life.”

The strong stench of dead fish and crustaceans can be smelled before a beachgoer hits the sand. And along the sand are piles of what looks like red drift algae. There are people helping clean up the piles, including garbage tangled up in them.

Winds gusts are a direct cause for the red drift algae piled up on the beach.

Cassani hopes the Red Tide Task Force formed by Gov. Ron DeSantis will provide more opportunity to take steps toward progress. But, for now, Cassani and other scientists say there is a long road ahead, as red tide and other water quality concerns continue to pop up on Southwest Florida beaches.

“These red tide events, scientists are telling us they’re becoming more frequent,” Cassani said. “They’re happening more, so that’s something to be concerned about.”