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CROW Clinic helping animals affected by red tide

Red tide levels are decreasing across our coastlines in Southwest Florida. But, for multiple animals, the damage from red tide has already been done and they need help.

updated red tide map
latest red tide map

Sadly, fish aren’t the only creatures affected by red tide. Dr. Heather Barron is the Medical and Research Director at CROW Clinic. “We always have birds come in every year,” she said.

Barron sees the effects red tide has on birds firsthand. “They’ll kind of be staggering around,” said Dr. Barron.

Since October 1, 2020, CROW has admitted 124 patients believed to have red tide poisoning. Dr. Barron did say this is a pretty average number.

It includes a turtle and 123 birds. “They eat the fish and it does make them very sick, very rapidly with brevetoxicosis,” said Barron.

In a way, CROW gets to be one of the first groups to know if red tide has returned or is lingering when they get patients like this.

“If there are high levels, then that might be an appropriate time to put out public health signs saying you know you don’t want to eat the shellfish in this area,” said Dr. Barron.

Red tide research is a big focus for the clinic. “A few years ago, we actually identified a very specific treatment that is incredibly helpful and has brought our success rate up quite a bit higher,” Barron said. “Now we’re around 65% overall for release rate for red tide poison victims.”

Getting those victims back out into the wild is how CROW Clinic spells success.

If you happen to come across a bird in need of help, call CROW or another wildlife authority in your area so they can make sure the animal is sick or injured. Then, they will be able to walk you through how to rescue the animal if needed.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Drew Hill
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