Red tide continues to linger off SWFL coast; visitors see different impacts

What are believed to be the effects of red tide have put a damper on relaxation time for many in Collier County.

Dead fish can be seen floating in Venetian Bay in Naples Monday, and red tide is believed to be the likely culprit.

Johnny Lee and Fred Durham, who were roommates in college, have been friends for more than 50 years. They’re from Tennessee, but they’ve been meeting up for decades in Southwest Florida to kick back together.

“We enjoy the beautiful weather,” Lee said. “We’ve been coming to Naples off and on for 40 years.”

While they enjoy the outdoors and walking along Venetian Bay, present conditions have not been optimal for their enjoyment.

“Being on the beach a couple of days ago, didn’t really notice any fish on the beach, but then this morning here in the canals back through here, it’s quite prevalent from dead fish,” Durham said.

“It smells bad; it hurts; it makes you cough; and it’s a miserable, environmental mess,” Lee said.

They’re not the only visitors experiencing the effects near the beach.

“It looks horrible,” Carol Shepard said. “It smells awful, and it’s really put a sad note on really a tough time in Naples right now.”

For Shepard, red tide affects her breathing and where she exercises.

“If I go outside and my lungs, I can feel it,” Shepard said. “I’ll actually drive further east to get away and have my walk there, but it’s really affected my experience this winter.”

We reached out to both the City of Naples and The Village Shops on Venetian Bay to see who is responsible for cleanup of the area. We are still waiting to hear back.

In the meantime, everyone is trying to do what they can to enjoy paradise.

“We love it here, and we know everybody else is having the same issue,” Lee said. “So we’re just dealing with it and making it, but certainly everybody here is not enjoying things as much as they would if it wasn’t for the red tide. It’s unfortunate for everybody.”

“Trying to get a little, away from the cold,” London Cuevas said. “I’m from New York, so definitely nicer here.”

Cuevas was visiting Bonita Beach with friends.

“So far it’s been good,” Cuevas said. “I heard we came right when the cold front came.”

While the cold looks like it went down with them, red tide was also sticking around.

“I did see some fish washed up on the shore,” Cuevas said.

When our crew walked along shore, we only found one dead fish.

“This is my first time at the beach, literally, so no chance to see dead fish,” said Sara Stevenson, visiting from St. Louis.

The lack of dead fish was welcomed by Stevenson.

“I feel blessed to be down here in some sunshine,” Stevenson said.

Our crew didn’t see any dead fish along the Sanibel Causeway either, but Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation was still finding concentrations of red tide.

“We’ve been having for the last week or so, medium to low concentrations mainly at the beaches,” said Richard Bartleson, a research scientist with SCCF.

Bartleson said, “Too soon to tell for sure,” when red tide will go away.

It’s advised not to let your pets near the water or any dead sea life. Look out for warning signs posted at beaches.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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