top of page

07/10/16: Dead fish on Collier beaches likely related to red tide

Naples City Harbormaster Roger Jacobsen arrived at the Naples Pier at 5:30 a.m. Friday to see if Hurricane Matthew conditions were calm enough that the Pier, which had been closed overnight, could be opened to the public. But before he got to the beach, the smell hit him. Then he knew he had another problem.

Thousands of dead fish washed up on the area’s coastline from Marco Island to Barefoot Beach, according to Collier County. In the city of Naples, the dead fish piled on the beach near the Pier and stretched north and south.

City crews equipped with tractors dragging large rakes worked Friday morning to clear the beach and planned to continue the effort throughout the day. But they couldn’t get rid of the smell that wafted over downtown Naples.

Dead fish litter Naples beaches after fish kill

“It’s awful; don’t go out there,” one beachgoer said as he made for an exit on the beach point at Broad Avenue South.

The county said the fish were killed by red tide, the bloom of toxin-producing algae that can stun the nervous systems of fish and cause respiratory issues and skin irritation in humans. Hurricane Matthew’s strong winds likely pushed the tide that had been slowly moving south through the Gulf for the past couple of weeks, said Stephanie Molloy, the city’s natural resources manager.

The county sent crews from the coastal zone management division to clean up Marco Island’s beaches and Vanderbilt Beach, said county spokesman Michael Sheffield.

Molloy guessed the tide could stay in the area for up to two more weeks. Sheffield said there may be more dead fish coming.

“They’re saying that there're going to be more fish that will wash up” with each tide cycle until the red tide passes, Sheffield said.

Beachgoers walking along the shore had to tiptoe around the fish Friday morning. Some stopped to take photos or just take a look at all the dead grunts and grouper.

“We just have to watch where we’re walking,” said Barry Ter Haar, 67, a vacationer from New Zealand who walked Vanderbilt Beach in North Naples.

Nearby, Rob Treadwell, 30, played in the sand with his daughter, Amelia, with the dead fish just a few feet away.

“I made it clear you don’t touch the dead fish,” he said. “She was very curious about them.”

Smelka Melgoza, 35, of Miami, was walking Vanderbilt Beach with her daughters Vivian, 11, and Vanessa, 8, on Friday morning.

“We were hoping to get in the ocean,” Melgoza said. “Now that it’s doing that to the fish, I don’t know.”

People with chronic respiratory illnesses should avoid going to the beach during red tide, according to the county.

The tide is a “higher-than-normal concentration” of microscopic algae, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. The most common species in Florida is Karenia brevis.

If the concentration is high enough, the algae blooms can discolor the water to a red or brown hue, according to the FWC.

The FWC said swimming is still safe for most people, although some beachgoers may suffer skin irritation and burning eyes.

Jacobsen said the city typically deals with red tide every year.

“We’ve seen it worse,” he said. “About 10 years ago we had full dumpsters at every beach point with dead tarpon and sharks.”

“It will be cleared out,” he said. “Hopefully the storm blows it out and it will be a beautiful weekend.”

37 Προβολές0 Σχόλια


bottom of page