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Water Quality Report

fish_kill.jpg
Sanibel_Captiva Conservation Foundation
/
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The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation found an abundance of dead shells in the wrack line including dosnia, cockles, pen shells, and fighting conchs on beach surveys from Lighthouse Beach Park to Tarpon Bay

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR JAN. 22, 2023

Everything on the shoreline has a name, whether it is referring to part of the shallow water, the sandy area, the dunes, or behind them where a shoreline normally stops being beachy and a new section starts. Hopefully it is a line of mangroves or trees, but too often these days it is a paved street or a row of homes facing the Gulf of Mexico.

The mean low-tide line is how far the water goes out on an average low tide. Moving ashore from there is the beach face, or the slope that is wet sand when the tide is out and ankle-deep water when the tide is in – at the spot is the mean high-tide water line.

(That zone, from the low-tide mark to the high-tide mark, is public land in the State of Florida and generally everywhere else in the country much to the chagrin of many shoreline homeowners who mistakenly believe their property runs out into the ocean and the beach does not belong to the rest of the world. It does.)

Still moving away from the water after the mean high-tide water line is the backshore, which is what you and I would call the beach. The flat area where we spread out our beach towels.

If you a toddler or under ten years old, it is where you build sand castles.

If you are a teenager it is where you throw and football or Frisbee and try not to look like a teenager.

Over 20 years old and you’re looking for love.

Over 30 or 40 years, it is where you are helping your toddler build sand castles.

Over 50 or 60 years old, it is the sand in which you jam a colorful umbrella, lie down in a reclining beach chair – and fall asleep until it is time to go.

WQR0122MainPhotoThisOne.jpg
Steven Earle
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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0
Everything on the shoreline has a name

Beyond that are dunes the hold sand for when storms come to help break the waves and protect the inland areas. And finally, at the inland edge of the backshore, hopefully starts a line of trees or mangroves leading to an inland forest or swamp. But too often these days that line marks the water-front façades of shoreline mansions leading to roads and a village with a kite store, a 7-11, and 18 small restaurants.

Runnels, swales, and breakers are natural features carved in the sand by winds, waves, water, and tides.

A really cool feature is one developing on area beaches now, and they form days, weeks or months after storms large and small.

It’s called a wrack line, and it is a line of debris left on the beach by high tide. This is not the normal broken shells and clumps of dead sea grass left by most high tides.

The wrack is comprised of bigger stuff: full-size shells, branches, pallets, palm tree trunks, and old rope and nets. I bet it is where most of the folks who make cool things out of driftwood, smoothed glass from bottles, and coconuts get their raw materials.

A wrack line is also made up of feathers, plastic, all kinds of litter – and these days a lot of dead fish and birds.

On Sanibel Island, six dead birds at various stages of decay found at the wrack line during a beach cleanup including a double crested cormorant, two brown pelicans, a royal tern, and two herring gulls. Double the amount of dead birds were found on the beach last week.

There were also an abundance of dead shells in the wrack line including dosnia, cockles, pen shells, and fighting conchs on beaches from Lighthouse Beach Park to Tarpon Bay.

Ian, was it you?

RED TIDE

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is reporting the red tide organism was detected in 77 samples from and offshore of Southwest Florida over the past week. Enough to cause a bloom were present in 10 samples: two in Manatee County; four in Lee County; four offshore of Monroe County.

Reports of fish kills suspected to be related to red tide were received in Southwest Florida from Manatee, Sarasota, and Collier counties over the past week.

Respiratory problems believed associated with red tide was reported in Southwest Florida in Manatee and Sarasota counties

What is red tide?

Red tide is one type of harmful algal bloom caused by high concentrations of the toxic dinoflagellate K. brevis, which is a type of microscopic algae found in the Gulf of Mexico. Red tide typically forms naturally offshore, commonly in late summer or early fall, and is carried into coastal waters by winds and currents. Once inshore, these opportunistic organisms can use nearshore nutrient sources to fuel their growth. Blooms typically last into winter or spring, but in some cases, can endure for more than one year.

Is red tide harmful?

K. brevis produces potent neurotoxins (brevetoxins) that can be harmful to the health of both wildlife and people. Wind and wave action can break open K. brevis cells and release toxins into the air. This is why you should monitor conditions and stay away from beaches where red tide is in bloom. People in coastal areas can experience varying degrees of eye, nose and throat irritation during a red tide bloom. Some individuals with chronic respiratory conditions like asthma or chronic lung disease might experience more severe symptoms. Red tide toxins can also affect the central nervous system of fish and other marine life, which can lead to fish kills.

What causes red tide?

A red tide bloom develops naturally, but recent studies have discovered mankind's infusion of other nutrients into the mix can make the red tide last longer or get stronger. But biology (the organisms), chemistry (natural or man-made nutrients for growth) and physics (concentrating and transport mechanisms) interact to produce the algal bloom. No one factor causes the development of a red tide bloom.

BLUE-GREEN ALGAE

Lee County Environmental Lab reported the presence of an element of Blue-Green algae at the Alva Boat Ramp as visible specks.

Satellite imagery of Lake Okeechobee showed patchy low-to-medium blue-green algae bloom potential in the lake.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, are a group of organisms that can live in freshwater, saltwater or brackish water. Large concentrations, called blooms, can change the water color to blue, green, brown, orange or red. Some cyanobacterial blooms can look like foam, scum, or mats on the surface of freshwater lakes and ponds. As algae in a cyanobacterial bloom die, the water may smell bad

Is blue-green algae harmful?

Different types of blue-green algal bloom species can look different and have different impacts. However, regardless of species, many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins that can make you or your pets sick if swallowed or possibly cause skin and eye irritation. The Florida department of Environmental Protection advises staying out of water where algae is visibly present as specks or mats or where water is discolored. Pets or livestock should not come into contact with algal bloom-impacted water or with algal bloom material or fish on the shoreline. If they do, wash the animals immediately.

What causes blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae blooms occur when the algae that are normally present grow in numbers more than normal. Within a few days, a bloom can cause clear water to become cloudy. Winds tend to push some floating blooms to the shore where they become more noticeable. Cyanobacterial blooms can form in warm, slow-moving waters that are rich in nutrients. Blooms can occur at any time, but most often occur in late summer or early fall.

If any major type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.

PREVIOUSLY…

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR JAN. 16, 2023

Red tide is everywhere again.

And I have some amazing help this week in explaining the situation.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is reporting the red tide organism, Karenia brevis, is being detected in 109 samples offshore of Southwest Florida. That’s more K. brevis than has been reported in quite some time, and to underscore just how prevalent that means red tide is right now, a 110th positive water sample was found off of the state’s east coast, which is rare indeed.

So that means red tide is back. While sampling two weeks ago didn’t find any, my guess is it had to do with less samplers moreso than no red tide. Last week, a special research vessel crammed with scientists looking for red tide was out on the water for only the second time since Hurricane Ian in late September.

When there are enough of the organisms present to create a visible discoloration of the water (greater than 100,000 cells per liter of sea water for any data nerds like myself out there) it is called a “bloom concentration,” and six-figures per liter were found in 17 of the samples including one offshore of Sarasota County, four offshore of Charlotte County, four offshore of Collier County, and two offshore of Monroe County. More data continues below.

The facts and figures presented each week here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report is the result of a lot of work on the water, by a lot of people associated with a lot of agencies, public and private, who monitor our waters for harmful algae blooms.

At the risk of going way off-topic, next I will first overstate the obvious, then I’m going to throw a curveball.

Stick around. What’s coming will amaze you.

Stating the obvious: I wrote the words above from sources including the FWC, the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, and marine scientists at Florida Gulf Coast University.

The curveball: The words you will next read about red tide were not written by me nor anyone else you know.

“Red tide, also known as harmful algal bloom (HAB), is a phenomenon that occurs when certain species of algae, such as Karenia brevis, rapidly reproduce and produce high concentrations of toxins. These toxins can harm marine life and make seafood unsafe to eat, and also can cause respiratory distress in humans. Red tide has been a recurrent problem in Southwest Florida, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico.

Currently, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reports that red tide is present in low to medium concentrations in various areas along the southwest coast of Florida. The counties affected include Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, and Citrus. The FWC also reports that red tide has caused fish kills and respiratory irritation in these areas.

Red tide blooms are caused by a combination of natural and human-induced factors. The main cause of red tide is the high concentration of nutrients, especially nitrogen and phosphorus, in the water. These nutrients can come from agricultural runoff, sewage discharges, and other human activities. Additionally, red tide blooms are also influenced by weather patterns, water temperature, and currents.

The state of Florida has taken steps to address red tide. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) has implemented a Red Tide Mitigation and Technology Development Plan, which focuses on research and development of new technologies to reduce the impact of red tide. Additionally, the FWC is working with local governments and organizations to reduce nutrient pollution and to improve water quality.

However, despite these efforts, red tide continues to be a problem in Southwest Florida. The blooms can last for months and can have significant economic impacts on the region, particularly on the fishing and tourism industries. In addition, red tide can also cause long-term damage to marine ecosystems.

It's important to note that red tide can be unpredictable and can change rapidly. The FWC recommends that people check the red tide status before visiting the beach or going in the water, as well as to be aware of the symptoms of red tide exposure, such as eye and throat irritation, coughing, and sneezing.”

That was written at full speed by a supercomputer called ChatGPT, a human-language-mimicking computer network that really is that good.

I heard about the “chatbot” a few weeks ago online, and wondered if it would be able to compose something like WGCU’s Water Quality Report. Not because I was going to try and fool my editor or get out of doing a part of my job, but out of pure curiosity. And the chatbot did not disappoint. Try it and be stunned.

To get the results I italicized above, I typed the following command into a query box on the ChatGPT website: “Write me 300 words on red tide in Southwest Florida using current information from the internet.”

I also asked it to describe itself so I wouldn’t make a mistake in explaining a momentous breakthrough in artificial intelligence, a field the specifics of which I know little.

I am a machine learning model that has been trained on a large dataset of text, which allows me to understand and generate human-like text. I can respond to questions, provide information, and generate creative text on various topics.

ChatGPS writes with near-technical precision, and only made one mistake in 20-some questions I asked it on a variety of subjects. Perhaps more impressive is a threshold between human and artificial intelligence has been crossed in one of the hardest mediums to do so: communication and comprehension.

ChatGPT is only a few months old, at least in how long its developers have made it available to everyone to test out in what is called “beta testing.” It is beyond amazing.

It has blown up the internet in just the last two weeks, and its potential goes far, far beyond red-tide parlor games. It can write college-level essays on any subject. It can tell you how to safely hold a newborn baby, write a TV commercial complete with instructions for the cameraman and sound guy, or convert your idea into executable Javascript. Said another way: It can code your words.

I am so impressed by ChatGPS I cannot decide if the thing is just a really great new invention that is going to drive teachers nuts (“Timmy, did you really write this paper or did your computer do it?”), or if the tipping point when computers take over from humans has arrived in beta. Yes, I mean that.

Perhaps encouraging on that front: I told it to lie, and it wouldn’t.

Me: “Write me 200 words stating that there is no red tide anywhere along Southwest Florida even if that is not true.”

It: “I'm sorry, but as a responsible language model, I cannot write content that is deliberately misleading or false. It is important to always provide accurate information. I will not provide any false information about Red tide, as it can be harmful to people and marine life. Providing false information can cause harm to people who may rely on it to make decisions, and it undermines the trust people have in the information provided. It is important to always strive for accuracy and integrity in the information we share.”

Woah.

Let’s get back on-topic.

RED TIDE

The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation is reporting that 10 dead birds were found on Sanibel beaches during a recent shoreline cleanup, including one double crested cormorant, three brown pelicans, two royal terns, two laughing gulls, and one greater yellowlegs. A single deceased common loon was found of on Bunche Beach.

It is unknown if the birds died from red tide exposure, but it’s a good bet. The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife received two birds with toxicosis symptoms from red tide or blue-green algae.

Reports of fish kills suspected to be related to red tide are being received in Southwest Florida in Manatee, Sarasota, and Collier counties. Respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide is being felt on beaches in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

What is red tide?

Red tide is one type of harmful algal bloom caused by high concentrations of the toxic dinoflagellate K. brevis, which is a type of microscopic algae found in the Gulf of Mexico. Red tide typically forms naturally offshore, commonly in late summer or early fall, and is carried into coastal waters by winds and currents. Once inshore, these opportunistic organisms can use nearshore nutrient sources to fuel their growth. Blooms typically last into winter or spring, but in some cases, can endure for more than one year.

Is red tide harmful?

K. brevis produces potent neurotoxins (brevetoxins) that can be harmful to the health of both wildlife and people. Wind and wave action can break open K. brevis cells and release toxins into the air. This is why you should monitor conditions and stay away from beaches where red tide is in bloom. People in coastal areas can experience varying degrees of eye, nose and throat irritation during a red tide bloom. Some individuals with chronic respiratory conditions like asthma or chronic lung disease might experience more severe symptoms. Red tide toxins can also affect the central nervous system of fish and other marine life, which can lead to fish kills.

What causes red tide?

A red tide bloom develops naturally, but recent studies have discovered mankind's infusion of other nutrients into the mix can make the red tide last longer or get stronger. But biology (the organisms), chemistry (natural or man-made nutrients for growth) and physics (concentrating and transport mechanisms) interact to produce the algal bloom. No one factor causes the development of a red tide bloom.

BLUE-GREEN ALGAE

The Lee County Environmental Lab is reporting components of blue-green algae upstream of the Franklin Lock and at the Davis boat ramp visible as specks in the water. That’s rather typical.

Recent satellite imagery of Lake Okeechobee showed patchy low-to-medium blue-green algae bloom potential in the lake.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, are a group of organisms that can live in freshwater, saltwater or brackish water. Large concentrations, called blooms, can change the water color to blue, green, brown, orange or red. Some cyanobacterial blooms can look like foam, scum, or mats on the surface of freshwater lakes and ponds. As algae in a cyanobacterial bloom die, the water may smell bad

Is blue-green algae harmful?

Different types of blue-green algal bloom species can look different and have different impacts. However, regardless of species, many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins that can make you or your pets sick if swallowed or possibly cause skin and eye irritation. The Florida department of Environmental Protection advises staying out of water where algae is visibly present as specks or mats or where water is discolored. Pets or livestock should not come into contact with algal bloom-impacted water or with algal bloom material or fish on the shoreline. If they do, wash the animals immediately.

What causes blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae blooms occur when the algae that are normally present grow in numbers more than normal. Within a few days, a bloom can cause clear water to become cloudy. Winds tend to push some floating blooms to the shore where they become more noticeable. Cyanobacterial blooms can form in warm, slow-moving waters that are rich in nutrients. Blooms can occur at any time, but most often occur in late summer or early fall.

If any major type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health.

Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.

PREVIOUSLY…

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR JAN. 8, 2023

FORT MYERS - After a spring and summer that was largely devoid of any harmful algae blooms in Southwest Florida, Hurricane’s Ian’s arrival in the fall brought a lot of crimson to the northern reaches of the region as red tide bloomed off every public swimming beach in Sarasota County for a time.

Red tide began popping up everywhere until dozens of blooms were present inshore, near-shore and offshore of Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee, Collier and Monroe counties.

Now, thanks to ocean currents, whims of the wind, and other factors nobody understands the red tide blooms have moved north and mainly lie offshore of Central Florida waters near the mouth of Tampa Bay.

Each week in this space we publish some basic information about harmful algae blooms - read down about a dozen paragraphs and you’ll see it – but first I want to touch upon some red tide facts you probably don’t know.

“Red” tide is rarely bright red, or deep crimson, or even visible in the water. It is most often found not by sight, but by testing the number of tiny, specific little things in a sample of water. That, and that one-of-a-kind acrid smell in the air.

The reason you might think every red tide is a huge expanse of water in all of its crimson glory is because people who want to demonstrate what red tide looks like – like me, for example, or a marine scientist, or a charter boat captain – will use the most extreme examples of the heaviest, most colorful red tide to most easily demonstrate what it is.

Otherwise, we’d have to get in how K. brevis likes to gorge on fertilizer, animal waste from the woods, human waste from failing septic systems, and more lovely stuff like that. Then it produces a lot of pigment called brevetoxin, which is reddish or brownish, and releases it into the sea water. That K. brevis is a type of dinoflagellate, or a single-celled algae, that is found in saltwater environments. And so on.

Red tide research is a huge field of study internationally because the fish-killing, tourism-ruining, beach-day cancelling phenomena is annoying to humans, can make people and animals sick, can kill pets and birds, and generally messes up a day near the water.

On with the report…

RED TIDE

The red tide organism, K. brevis, was detected in 59 samples collected along Florida's Gulf Coast over the past week, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Concentrations large enough to create a visible “red” red tide were present in nine samples: one offshore of Pinellas County, one in Hillsborough County, four in Manatee County, two in Sarasota County, and one offshore of Charlotte County.

Reports of fish kills suspected to be related to red tide are coming in from throughout Southwest Florida, again, mostly from the northern section around the mouth of Tampa Bay. The types of fish found dead were as large as tarpon and as small as grunts and pinfish. Mullet, snook, ladyfish, catfish and even some tilapia are among the dead.

Respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide was reported along beaches through Southwest Florida, but it moves quickly, so if you show up at one beach and it is too acrid to stick around, try again the next day. It might be a much more pleasant experience.

What is red tide?

Red tide is one type of harmful algal bloom caused by high concentrations of the toxic dinoflagellate K. brevis, which is a type of microscopic algae found in the Gulf of Mexico. Red tide typically forms naturally offshore, commonly in late summer or early fall, and is carried into coastal waters by winds and currents. Once inshore, these opportunistic organisms can use nearshore nutrient sources to fuel their growth. Blooms typically last into winter or spring, but in some cases, can endure for more than one year.

Is red tide harmful?

K. brevis produces potent neurotoxins (brevetoxins) that can be harmful to the health of both wildlife and people. Wind and wave action can break open K. brevis cells and release toxins into the air. This is why you should monitor conditions and stay away from beaches where red tide is in bloom. People in coastal areas can experience varying degrees of eye, nose and throat irritation during a red tide bloom. Some individuals with chronic respiratory conditions like asthma or chronic lung disease might experience more severe symptoms. Red tide toxins can also affect the central nervous system of fish and other marine life, which can lead to fish kills.

What causes red tide?

A red tide bloom develops naturally, but recent studies have discovered mankind's infusion of other nutrients into the mix can make the red tide last longer or get stronger. But biology (the organisms), chemistry (natural or man-made nutrients for growth) and physics (concentrating and transport mechanisms) interact to produce the algal bloom. No one factor causes the development of a red tide bloom.

BLUE-GREEN ALGAE

Various environmental agencies collected dozens of samples of water for blue-green algae and the cyanobacteria responsible for it, and while some was found what was, was in small patches mainly in canal off the mid-to-upper Caloosahatchee River.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, are a group of organisms that can live in freshwater, saltwater or brackish water. Large concentrations, called blooms, can change the water color to blue, green, brown, orange or red. Some cyanobacterial blooms can look like foam, scum, or mats on the surface of freshwater lakes and ponds. As algae in a cyanobacterial bloom die, the water may smell bad

Is blue-green algae harmful?

Different types of blue-green algal bloom species can look different and have different impacts. However, regardless of species, many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins that can make you or your pets sick if swallowed or possibly cause skin and eye irritation. The Florida department of Environmental Protection advises staying out of water where algae is visibly present as specks or mats or where water is discolored. Pets or livestock should not come into contact with algal bloom-impacted water or with algal bloom material or fish on the shoreline. If they do, wash the animals immediately.

What causes blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae blooms occur when the algae that are normally present grow in numbers more than normal. Within a few days, a bloom can cause clear water to become cloudy. Winds tend to push some floating blooms to the shore where they become more noticeable. Cyanobacterial blooms can form in warm, slow-moving waters that are rich in nutrients. Blooms can occur at any time, but most often occur in late summer or early fall.

If any major type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health.

Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.

PREVIOUSLY…

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR DEC. 25, 2022

NAPLES - Reports of red tide and blue-green algae monitoring flow into my inbox all day long, usually in clusters for some reason, and these days they tell of rapid changes.

It seems as if red tide is hop-scotching across the region, appearing in water quality tests in the Peace River one day, but not the next, but then the third day it’s back, and so on throughout the region. But mostly, the blooms are waning, or moving to the north of Southwest Florida.

The information included in WGCU’s weekly Water Quality Report is fed by a steady stream of harmful algae bloom-dedicated emails, newsletters and press releases, research into water-quality databases, and at websites ranging from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to Sarasota’s Mote Marine Laboratory to the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation.

It seems as if red tide is hop-scotching across the region, appearing in water quality tests in the Peace River one day, but not the next, but then the third day it’s back, and so on throughout the region.

The most intriguing information this week came from Collier County Pollution Control, and that’s because it sums up the fear among water quality managers that this red tide outbreak could re-appear in force at any time.

“Forecast: No red tide impacts are expected in Collier County; however, we have red tide offshore to our north. Conditions could change.

“People visiting the beach or local waters should proceed with caution if they are sensitive to red tide. Red tide is very patchy and conditions can change daily.”

Naples area beach accesses continue to reopen and both red tide subsides and cleaning crews have cleared the beaches of dangers that they could see on the days they looked.

Collier County Parks and Recreation Division has already re-opened Bluebill Access, South Marco Beach Access, and Tigertail Beach Access, North Gulf Shore Access, Vanderbilt Beach Accesses Nos. 2, 4, and 6. This week, and after over two months of cleanup from Hurricane Ian, the county is reopening Clam Pass Park Beach Access, at 465 Seagate Dr., and Vanderbilt Beach Access and Vanderbilt Beach Parking Garage at 100 Vanderbilt Beach Rd.

“Please be aware that there could be dangers hidden under the water and sand because of Hurricane Ian,” county officials wrote in the release. “There is the possibility of glass, metal, wood and plastic in the water and sand that can be difficult or impossible to see.”

Good advice for beachgoers throughout Southwest Florida.

RED TIDE:

Good news for us is the big patches of red tide have drifted northward from Southwest Florida to the Tampa Bay region, which is bad news for residents in Manatee and Pinellas counties.

The red tide organism, Karenia brevis, was detected in 51 samples collected from and offshore of Southwest Florida over the past week. Amounts concentrated enough to cause a bloom were present in 20 samples: 16 in and offshore of Pinellas County and four in Manatee County.

In Southwest Florida over the past week, K. brevis was observed at background-to-low concentrations in Sarasota County, and background concentrations in Lee County.

Fish kills suspected to be related to red tide were discovered in Sarasota and Collier counties over the past week. Respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide was reported in Sarasota County.

What is red tide?

Red tide is one type of harmful algal bloom caused by high concentrations of a type of microscopic algae found in the Gulf of Mexico. Red tide typically forms naturally offshore, commonly in late summer or early fall, and is carried into coastal waters by winds and currents. Once inshore, these opportunistic organisms can use nearshore nutrient sources to fuel their growth. Blooms typically last into winter or spring, but in some cases, can endure for more than one year.

Is red tide harmful?

K. brevis produces potent neurotoxins that can be harmful to the health of both wildlife and people, and wind and wave action can break open the cells and release toxins into the air. This is why you should monitor conditions and stay away from beaches where red tide is in bloom. People in coastal areas can experience varying degrees of eye, nose and throat irritation during a red tide bloom. Some individuals with chronic respiratory conditions like asthma or chronic lung disease might experience more severe symptoms. Red tide toxins can also affect the central nervous system of fish and other marine life, which can lead to fish kills.

What causes red tide?

A red tide bloom develops naturally, but recent studies have discovered mankind's infusion of other nutrients into the mix can make a red tide last longer or get stronger. No one factor causes the development of a red tide bloom. Marine scientists worldwide are trying to discover the exact conditions that make the ever-present background concentrations of red tide grow into a full-scale bloom where the water turns a variety of reddish colors, the water becomes oxygen-less, fish die, and then wash up on the beaches and rot. The acrid odor of it all, at the least, ruins a beach day and, at the worse, can cause respiratory problems in humans that require medical attention.

BLUE-GREEN ALGAE

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection reports that satellite images of Lake Okeechobee from found a 5% bloom potential. The special algae-seeing satellite also takes images of the Caloosahatchee River estuary system and detected no significant bloom potential.

“Please keep in mind that bloom potential is subject to change due to rapidly changing environmental conditions or satellite inconsistencies,” the DEP wrote.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, are a group of organisms that can live in freshwater, saltwater or brackish water. Large concentrations, called blooms, can change the water color to blue, green, brown, orange or red. Some cyanobacterial blooms can look like foam, scum, or mats on the surface of freshwater lakes and ponds. As algae in a cyanobacterial bloom die, the water may smell bad.

Is blue-green algae harmful?

Different types of blue-green algal bloom species can look different and have different impacts. However, regardless of species, many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins that can make you or your pets sick if swallowed or possibly cause skin and eye irritation. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection advises staying out of water where algae is visibly present as specks or mats or where water is discolored. Pets or livestock should not come into contact with algal bloom-impacted water or with algal bloom material or fish on the shoreline. If they do, wash the animals immediately.

What causes blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae blooms occur when the algae that are normally present grow in numbers more than normal. Within a few days, a bloom can cause clear water to become cloudy. Winds tend to push some floating blooms to the shore where they become more noticeable. Cyanobacterial blooms can form in warm, slow-moving waters that are rich in nutrients. Blooms can occur at any time, but most often occur in late summer or early fall.

If any major type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health.

Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.

PREVIOUSLY…

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR DEC. 18, 2022

SANIBEL ISLAND – A man who told authorities he was washing his hands off in a pond was bitten by an alligator late this week in the 2400 block of Periwinkle Way. The victim sustained serious injury to his right forearm and was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance.

In this report we keep track of harmful algae blooms like red tide and blue-green algae in Southwest Florida waters. But a pause in that norm is apropos right now to remind that “water quality” post-Ian has a larger context that includes gators, snakes, and even floating balls of stinging red ants that need to be, at least, paid attention to in terms of what might be harmful in the water right now.

Hurricane Ian disrupted everyday life in Southwest Florida. As one of the strongest landfalling hurricanes to strike Florida in recorded history, it doesn’t take too much imagination to suppose that animals, too, have become disoriented and in this case perhaps more aggressive than otherwise.

As is unfortunate but understandable protocol in the case where a deadly animal bites, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and a private trapper were attempting to capture the alligator.

RED TIDE

Red tide was detected in 69 samples collected from Southwest Florida over the past week. Strong amounts were present in 21 samples: two in Manatee County, and 19 in Sarasota County. Additional details are provided below.

K. brevis was observed at low concentrations in Charlotte County, background-to-low concentrations in Lee County, and background concentrations in Collier County.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fish Kill Hotline received reports of dead fish and respiratory irritation at South Creek, Naples Beach, Naples Pier, Ainger Creek, Kite Cove, Moorings Bay, Pine Island Sound, and offshore.

The dead fish included snook, red drum, gag grouper, goliath grouper, jack crevalle, pinfish, spotted seatrout, grunt, scaled sardine, sand perch, bluefish, permit, bonnethead shark, mullet, catfish, pufferfish, eel, and crab.

What is red tide?

Red tide is one type of harmful algal bloom caused by high concentrations of the toxic dinoflagellate Karenia brevis, which is a type of microscopic algae found in the Gulf of Mexico. Red tide typically forms naturally offshore, commonly in late summer or early fall, and is carried into coastal waters by winds and currents. Once inshore, these opportunistic organisms can use nearshore nutrient sources to fuel their growth. Blooms typically last into winter or spring, but in some cases, can endure for more than a year.

What causes red tide?

A red tide bloom develops naturally, but recent studies have discovered mankind's infusion of other nutrients into the mix can make the red tide last longer or get stronger. But biology (the organisms), chemistry (natural or man-made nutrients for growth) and physics (concentrating and transport mechanisms) interact to produce the algal bloom. No one known factor causes the development of a red tide bloom.

Is red tide harmful?

K. brevis produces potent neurotoxins that can be harmful to the health of both wildlife and people. Wind and wave action can break open K. brevis cells and release toxins into the air. This is why you should monitor conditions and stay away from beaches where red tide is in bloom. People in coastal areas can experience varying degrees of eye, nose and throat irritation during a red tide bloom. Some individuals with chronic respiratory conditions like asthma or chronic lung disease might experience more severe symptoms. Red tide toxins can also affect the central nervous system of fish and other marine life, which can lead to fish kills.

BLUE-GREEN ALGAE

Various environmental agencies collected dozens of samples of water for blue-green algae and the cyanobacteria responsible for it, and while some was found what was, was in small patches mainly in canals off the mid-to-upper Caloosahatchee River.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae, sometimes called cyanobacteria, can occur in lakes, rivers and estuaries, according to the South Florida Water Management District. Blooms can look like foam, scum, or mats on the surface of the water, are fueled by nutrient pollution, and are often found in places with stagnant including boat slips and dead-end canals. Healthy cyanobacteria is green, but turns blue as the algae die and dry on the surface or shoreline, at which point it often starts smelling like rotten eggs.

What causes blue-green algae? 

Nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus exacerbate the extent, duration and intensity of algal blooms. Other factors that contribute to blooms include warm temperatures and reduced water flow. Although they can occur at any time, blue-green algae are most common in Florida during the summer and early fall, with high temperatures and abundant sunlight. The summer also brings storms that have the potential to deliver additional nutrient pollution into waterways through stormwater runoff.

Is blue-green algae harmful?

Different types of blue-green algal bloom species can look different and have different impacts. However, regardless of species, many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins that can make you or your pets sick if swallowed or possibly cause skin and eye irritation. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection advises staying out of water where algae is visibly present as specks or mats or where water is discolored. Pets or livestock should not come into contact with algal bloom-impacted water or with algal bloom material or dead fish on the shoreline. If they do, wash the animals immediately.

If any major type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health.

Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.

PREVIOUSLY...

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR DEC. 4, 2022

LAKE OKEECHOBEE – There is a NASA spacecraft made for astronauts orbiting the moon with nobody in it, somebody just paid $220,000 for a pair of very used Birkenstocks worn by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in the 1970s, and a NASA satellite sees that Lake Okeechobee is free of any traces of blue-green algae.

Those are three things you don't read very often. Especially the one that a special algae-spotting government satellite is giving the all-clear to Lake O.

Let me digress to discuss red tide. It has been the topic de jour for some time now because a massive collection of blooms are growing offshore from Manatee County south to the Ten Thousand Islands region. “Why?” That answer is a complicated mix of nature’s whims, mankind’s exploitation of the environment, and Hurricane Ian. Scroll down to read about it in previous reports archived beneath this one if you wish. If you don’t, do be clear on this: You still need to keep yourself, kids and pets away from the Gulf of Mexico, the bays, and anything other water body with salt in it because this red tide is dangerous. Especially to those with respiratory problems who live near the ocean; those folks need to stay inside with the a/c on until the Florida Department of Heath says otherwise.

Now back to blue-green algae, because it’s very possibly the next Hurricane-Ian-harmful-algae-outbreak-issue we will be dealing with.

Lake O is all-but hopelessly polluted by nutrients from nearly a century of farming on its shores and along its headwaters – often industrial-level agriculture like that of so-called Big Sugar. That the lake is, right now, “free of any traces of blue-green algae” is rather remarkable – “impossible” I’d say - but I am not a NASA rocket scientists/algae bloom expert.

What follows is a short explanation of why such an impossibility exists courtesy of University of Florida graduating senior Hallie Ann Zimmerman’s final project titled “Lake Okeechobee Water Management: A Historical Fight for Control” written in 2018. I hope her professor, Stanley Latimer, gave Ms. Zimmerman an “A” grade.

Ms. Zimmerman properly summed up 100 years of events that lead to Lake O being the ultimate harmful algal bloom incubator it is today: “The unregulated use of fertilizers containing nutrients that are run-off into Lake Okeechobee are no doubt correlated to the toxic blue-green algae blooms. While agricultural runoff isn’t the only cause, many fingers point to the Sugar Industry,” she wrote. And we have a bingo.

Why she deserved an “A’ is because she properly spread the blame further north, and earlier in time, instead of focusing just on industrial-sized agriculture.

“Phosphorus originating from land to the north that drains into the Kissimmee River, these lands contain vegetable farms, dairy farms, cattle ranches, citrus groves, and neighborhoods that span as far north as the Orlando suburbs, where fertilizer, wastewater, and other sources of nutrients wash into the Kissimmee River, which then flows into Lake Okeechobee.”

Red tide is nasty. It’s smells. Kills tons of fish. Chases away tourists and their dollars we rely on so we don’t have a state income tax. And on a personal note it really ruins boating and fishing.

What did the Army Corps of Engineers and others do to try and fix the lake? (Dredge the Caloosahatchee River into a canal.) How did that turn into our problem here in Southwest Florida? (Massive blue-green algae blooms in the past when lake water was release en mass down the “river.”) And what, exactly, am I getting at? (It’s probably about to happen again.)

The actual dredge that was used to dig the Caloosahatchee river .. Univ of Florida archivess.JPG
University of Florida
/
This dredge was used during one of the many projects that forever changed the Caloosahatchee River from a meandering stream with headwaters in Lake Flirt's waterfall and ensuing rapids, into a canal with locks and dams that now connect it to Lake Okeechobee and is the western part of the Okeechobee Waterway stretching across Florida from Fort Myers on the west coast to Stuart on Florida's east coast

Tune in next week when we continue Ms. Zimmerman’s lesson, one in which she equates the Caloosahatchee River’s capabilities as a relief valve for Lake O’s nutrient-polluted water with a “sewer drain.”

Now back to WGCU’s Water Quality Report already in progress.

What is red tide?

Red tide is one type of harmful algal bloom caused by high concentrations of the toxic dinoflagellate Karenia brevis, which is a type of microscopic algae found in the Gulf of Mexico. Red tide typically forms naturally offshore, commonly in late summer or early fall, and is carried into coastal waters by winds and currents. Once inshore, these opportunistic organisms can use nearshore nutrient sources to fuel their growth. Blooms typically last into winter or spring, but in some cases, can endure for more than one year.

Is red tide harmful?

K. brevis produces potent neurotoxins (brevetoxins) that can be harmful to the health of both wildlife and people. Wind and wave action can break open K. brevis cells and release toxins into the air. This is why you should monitor conditions and stay away from beaches where red tide is in bloom. People in coastal areas can experience varying degrees of eye, nose and throat irritation during a red tide bloom. Some individuals with chronic respiratory conditions like asthma or chronic lung disease might experience more severe symptoms. Red tide toxins can also affect the central nervous system of fish and other marine life, which can lead to fish kills.

What causes red tide?

A red tide bloom develops naturally, but recent studies have discovered mankind's infusion of other nutrients into the mix can make the red tide last longer or get stronger. But biology (the organisms), chemistry (natural or man-made nutrients for growth) and physics (concentrating and transport mechanisms) interact to produce the algal bloom. No one factor causes the development of a red tide bloom.

BLUE-GREEN ALGAE

Various environmental agencies collected dozens of samples of water for blue-green algae and the cyanobacteria responsible for it, and while some was found what was, was in small patches mainly in canal off the mid-to-upper Caloosahatchee River.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, are a group of organisms that can live in freshwater, saltwater or brackish water. Large concentrations, called blooms, can change the water color to blue, green, brown, orange or red. Some cyanobacterial blooms can look like foam, scum, or mats on the surface of freshwater lakes and ponds. As algae in a cyanobacterial bloom die, the water may smell bad

Is blue-green algae harmful?

Different types of blue-green algal bloom species can look different and have different impacts. However, regardless of species, many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins that can make you or your pets sick if swallowed or possibly cause skin and eye irritation. The Florida department of Environmental Protection advises staying out of water where algae is visibly present as specks or mats or where water is discolored. Pets or livestock should not come into contact with algal bloom-impacted water or with algal bloom material or fish on the shoreline. If they do, wash the animals immediately.

What causes blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae blooms occur when the algae that are normally present grow in numbers more than normal. Within a few days, a bloom can cause clear water to become cloudy. Winds tend to push some floating blooms to the shore where they become more noticeable. Cyanobacterial blooms can form in warm, slow-moving waters that are rich in nutrients. Blooms can occur at any time, but most often occur in late summer or early fall.

If any major type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health.

Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.

PREVIOUSLY…

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR NOV. 28, 2022

SOUTH MARCO BEACH – “Stay away from the water.

“Those with chronic respiratory problem should be especially and stay away from this location.

“Residents living in beach areas are advised to close the windows and run the air conditioner making sure the A/C filter is maintained.”

Believe it or not, that is on a sign, on the beach, right now.

Woah.

Thank hurricanes Irma and Nicole for washing an unmeasurable amount of pollution into the sea, which contained animal and human feces, chemicals of all sorts from cigarette butts, leaking car engines, used face masks, rubber worn off tires, and plastic bottles.

The floodwaters also carried nutrient pollution into the water, nitrogen and phosphate from fertilizers, agricultural runoff, and organics such as leaves and grass clippings that all combined to become a potential “food source” for the numerous red tide outbreaks throughout the region. Read all about that here.

And not just in Collier County, but on most beaches from Anna Maria Island at the month of Tampa Bay south to here. The Florida Department of Health’s warning signs of polluted water so unsafe as to tell even tourists to pack up and go away is stunning,

Some beachgoers are complaining of skin reactions to the wet sand, which makes sense because the same stuff that flooded off the land and into the water full of nutrient pollution had to wash over the beach on the way.

RED TIDE

This week 133 water quality tests were positive for red tide organism, Karenia brevis, along Florida’s Gulf Coast. Concentrations high enough to be considered blooms were found in 82 of those: one in Manatee County, 34 in and offshore of Sarasota County, two in Charlotte County, 38 in and offshore of Lee County, and seven in Collier County.

In Southwest Florida over the past week, K. brevis was also observed at very low to medium concentrations in Manatee County, very low to high concentrations in and offshore of Sarasota County, background to high concentrations in and offshore of Charlotte County, background to high concentrations in and offshore of Lee County, and background to high concentrations in Collier County.

Reports of fish kills suspected to be related to red tide were received over the past week in Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee, and Collier counties.

Respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide was reported over the past week in the same Southwest Florida counties.

What is red tide?

Red tide is one type of harmful algal bloom caused by high concentrations of the toxic dinoflagellate Karenia brevis, which is a type of microscopic algae found in the Gulf of Mexico. Red tide typically forms naturally offshore, commonly in late summer or early fall, and is carried into coastal waters by winds and currents. Once inshore, these opportunistic organisms can use nearshore nutrient sources to fuel their growth. Blooms typically last into winter or spring, but in some cases, can endure for more than one year.

Is red tide harmful?

K. brevis produces potent neurotoxins (brevetoxins) that can be harmful to the health of both wildlife and people. Wind and wave action can break open K. brevis cells and release toxins into the air. This is why you should monitor conditions and stay away from beaches where red tide is in bloom. People in coastal areas can experience varying degrees of eye, nose and throat irritation during a red tide bloom. Some individuals with chronic respiratory conditions like asthma or chronic lung disease might experience more severe symptoms. Red tide toxins can also affect the central nervous system of fish and other marine life, which can lead to fish kills.

What causes red tide?

A red tide bloom develops naturally, but recent studies have discovered mankind's infusion of other nutrients into the mix can make the red tide last longer or get stronger. But biology (the organisms), chemistry (natural or man-made nutrients for growth) and physics (concentrating and transport mechanisms) interact to produce the algal bloom. No one factor causes the development of a red tide bloom.

BLUE-GREEN ALGAE

Various environmental agencies collected dozens of samples of water for blue-green algae and the cyanobacteria responsible for it, and while some was found what was, was in small patches mainly in canal off the mid-to-upper Caloosahatchee River.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, are a group of organisms that can live in freshwater, saltwater or brackish water. Large concentrations, called blooms, can change the water color to blue, green, brown, orange or red. Some cyanobacterial blooms can look like foam, scum, or mats on the surface of freshwater lakes and ponds. As algae in a cyanobacterial bloom die, the water may smell bad

Is blue-green algae harmful?

Different types of blue-green algal bloom species can look different and have different impacts. However, regardless of species, many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins that can make you or your pets sick if swallowed or possibly cause skin and eye irritation. The Florida department of Environmental Protection advises staying out of water where algae is visibly present as specks or mats or where water is discolored. Pets or livestock should not come into contact with algal bloom-impacted water or with algal bloom material or fish on the shoreline. If they do, wash the animals immediately.

What causes blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae blooms occur when the algae that are normally present grow in numbers more than normal. Within a few days, a bloom can cause clear water to become cloudy. Winds tend to push some floating blooms to the shore where they become more noticeable. Cyanobacterial blooms can form in warm, slow-moving waters that are rich in nutrients. Blooms can occur at any time, but most often occur in late summer or early fall.

If any major type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.

PREVIOUSLY…

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission compiles real-time information on red tide, including maps and reports, on the FWRI Red Tide website.

The site also provides related links to additional information including satellite images, red tide forecasts, shellfish harvesting areas, and contacts at the Florida Poison Information Center, which people can contact if they believe exposure to red tide has made them ill.

The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Sciences has current satellite images searching for early signs of red tide off Southwest Florida , and

Mote Marine Laboratory's Beach Conditions Report provides up-to-date information about which, if any, beaches in Southwest Florida are being affected by a red tide.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has a dashboard with a plethora of real-time information about harmful algae blooms. Learn more about harmful algae blooms here.

For more details, please visit: https://myfwc.com/research/saltwater/health/fish-kills-hotline/.

For recent and current information at individual beaches, visit https://visitbeaches.org/ and for forecasts that use FWC and partner data, go to https://habforecast.gcoos.org/.

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR THE WEEK OF SEPT. 18

Reports from state environmental agencies, conservation group, and citizens said the major waterways in Southwest Florida were clear of red tide, blue-green algae, and other harmful algae blooms as the week began although there were some minor reports offshore and in the Caloosahatchee River.

RED TIDE

The red tide organism, Karenia brevis, was observed at background concentrations in one sample from Southwest Florida over the past week 15 miles offshore of Collier County.

No reports of fish kills or respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide were received during the past week.

BLUE-GREEN ALGAE

The Lee County Environmental Lab reported the presence of Microcystis in the Caloosahatchee River upstream of the Franklin Locks as sparse specks and slight accumulation along the lock, and the same component of blue-green algae was reported as moderately abundant at the Davis Boat Ramp.

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR NOV. 28, 2022

SOUTH MARCO BEACH – “Stay away from the water.

“Those with chronic respiratory problem should be especially and stay away from this location.

“Residents living in beach areas are advised to close the windows and run the air conditioner making sure the A/C filter is maintained.”

Believe it or not, that is on a sign, on the beach, right now.

Thank hurricanes Irma and Nicole for washing an unmeasurable amount of pollution into the sea, which contained animal and human feces, chemicals of all sorts from cigarette butts, leaking car engines, used face masks, rubber worn off tires, and plastic bottles.

The floodwaters also carried nutrient pollution into the water, nitrogen and phosphate from fertilizers, agricultural runoff, and organics such as leaves and grass clippings that all combined to become a potential “food source” for the numerous red tide outbreaks throughout the region. Read all about that here.

And not just in Collier County, but on most beaches from Anna Maria Island at the month of Tampa Bay south to here. The Florida Department of Health’s warning signs of polluted water so unsafe as to tell even tourists to pack up and go away is stunning,

Some beachgoers are complaining of skin reactions to the wet sand, which makes sense because the same stuff that flooded off the land and into the water full of nutrient pollution had to wash over the beach on the way.

RED TIDE

This week 133 water quality tests were positive for red tide organism, Karenia brevis, along Florida’s Gulf Coast. Concentrations high enough to be considered blooms were found in 82 of those: one in Manatee County, 34 in and offshore of Sarasota County, two in Charlotte County, 38 in and offshore of Lee County, and seven in Collier County.

In Southwest Florida over the past week, K. brevis was also observed at very low to medium concentrations in Manatee County, very low to high concentrations in and offshore of Sarasota County, background to high concentrations in and offshore of Charlotte County, background to high concentrations in and offshore of Lee County, and background to high concentrations in Collier County.

Reports of fish kills suspected to be related to red tide were received over the past week in Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee, and Collier counties.

Respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide was reported over the past week in the same Southwest Florida counties.

What is red tide?

Red tide is one type of harmful algal bloom caused by high concentrations of the toxic dinoflagellate Karenia brevis, which is a type of microscopic algae found in the Gulf of Mexico. Red tide typically forms naturally offshore, commonly in late summer or early fall, and is carried into coastal waters by winds and currents. Once inshore, these opportunistic organisms can use nearshore nutrient sources to fuel their growth. Blooms typically last into winter or spring, but in some cases, can endure for more than one year.

Is red tide harmful?

K. brevis produces potent neurotoxins (brevetoxins) that can be harmful to the health of both wildlife and people. Wind and wave action can break open K. brevis cells and release toxins into the air. This is why you should monitor conditions and stay away from beaches where red tide is in bloom. People in coastal areas can experience varying degrees of eye, nose and throat irritation during a red tide bloom. Some individuals with chronic respiratory conditions like asthma or chronic lung disease might experience more severe symptoms. Red tide toxins can also affect the central nervous system of fish and other marine life, which can lead to fish kills.

What causes red tide?

A red tide bloom develops naturally, but recent studies have discovered mankind's infusion of other nutrients into the mix can make the red tide last longer or get stronger. But biology (the organisms), chemistry (natural or man-made nutrients for growth) and physics (concentrating and transport mechanisms) interact to produce the algal bloom. No one factor causes the development of a red tide bloom.

BLUE-GREEN ALGAE

Various environmental agencies collected dozens of samples of water for blue-green algae and the cyanobacteria responsible for it, and while some was found what was, was in small patches mainly in canal off the mid-to-upper Caloosahatchee River.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, are a group of organisms that can live in freshwater, saltwater or brackish water. Large concentrations, called blooms, can change the water color to blue, green, brown, orange or red. Some cyanobacterial blooms can look like foam, scum, or mats on the surface of freshwater lakes and ponds. As algae in a cyanobacterial bloom die, the water may smell bad

Is blue-green algae harmful?

Different types of blue-green algal bloom species can look different and have different impacts. However, regardless of species, many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins that can make you or your pets sick if swallowed or possibly cause skin and eye irritation. The Florida department of Environmental Protection advises staying out of water where algae is visibly present as specks or mats or where water is discolored. Pets or livestock should not come into contact with algal bloom-impacted water or with algal bloom material or fish on the shoreline. If they do, wash the animals immediately.

What causes blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae blooms occur when the algae that are normally present grow in numbers more than normal. Within a few days, a bloom can cause clear water to become cloudy. Winds tend to push some floating blooms to the shore where they become more noticeable. Cyanobacterial blooms can form in warm, slow-moving waters that are rich in nutrients. Blooms can occur at any time, but most often occur in late summer or early fall.

If any major type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.

PREVIOUSLY…

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR NOV. 2, 2022

MARCO ISLAND - The Florida Department of Health in Collier County is the latest satellite office to issue a health alert for red tide bloom.

The bloom, near South Marco Beach and Marco Island Beach, contains neurotoxins that go airborne and create an unmistakable acrid odor that often causes watery eyes, a scratchy throat, and chases people away from the beach.

Collier County health officials warn everybody to “stay away from the water, and do not swim in waters with dead fish” and “those with chronic respiratory problems should be especially cautious and stay away from this location as red tide can affect your breathing.”

Red tide was detected at every beach in Sarasota County soon after Hurricane Ian made landfall near Fort Myers in late September. Earlier this month, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission found the red tide organism, Karenia brevis, in nearly 100 samples throughout Southwest Florida.

Florida Department of Health officials in Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, and Lee counties have already issued health advisories due to red tide blooms that warn people to stay out of the water.

Since hurricane Ian made landfall in Lee County in late September, many of those who make their living from the Gulf of Mexico dreaded just the type of massive red tide outbreak that has come to pass. The fact that a red tide that lasted nearly two years followed hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 was enough anecdotal evidence for charter captains, fresh fish sellers, and coastal environmental groups to spark the concern.

And twice this year, otherwise unrelated research projects found that mankind’s use of fertilizers, and old or abandoned leaky septic tanks, washes water into the Gulf off Mexico so full of nutrients it’s considered polluted. And if a red tide is already set to bloom, the nutrient-rich runoff has been proven to help the bloom grow stronger and last longer than perhaps it otherwise would.

“We have no evidence that a hurricane causes red tide,” said Michael Parsons, a professor of marine science at Florida Gulf Coast University and director of FGCU's Vester Marine and Environmental Science Research Field Station. “We don't influence their start, as far as we know. But between hurricanes and runoff from human activities, we could be making them worse.”

What is red tide?

Red tide is one type of harmful algal bloom caused by high concentrations of the toxic dinoflagellate Karenia brevis, which is a type of microscopic algae found in the Gulf of Mexico. Red tide typically forms naturally offshore, commonly in late summer or early fall, and is carried into coastal waters by winds and currents. Once inshore, these opportunistic organisms can use nearshore nutrient sources to fuel their growth. Blooms typically last into winter or spring, but in some cases, can endure for more than one year.

Is red tide harmful?

K. brevis produces potent neurotoxins (brevetoxins) that can be harmful to the health of both wildlife and people. Wind and wave action can break open K. brevis cells and release toxins into the air. This is why you should monitor conditions and stay away from beaches where red tide is in bloom. People in coastal areas can experience varying degrees of eye, nose and throat irritation during a red tide bloom. Some individuals with chronic respiratory conditions like asthma or chronic lung disease might experience more severe symptoms. Red tide toxins can also affect the central nervous system of fish and other marine life, which can lead to fish kills.

What causes red tide?

A red tide bloom develops naturally, but recent studies have discovered mankind's infusion of other nutrients into the mix can make the red tide last longer or get stronger. But biology (the organisms), chemistry (natural or man-made nutrients for growth) and physics (concentrating and transport mechanisms) interact to produce the algal bloom. No one factor causes the development of a red tide bloom.

BLUE-GREEN ALGAE

The Lee County Environmental Lab collected 44 samples to test for the presence of the cyanotoxins that cause blue-green algae and none in Southwest Florida were positive.

There were 27 reported site visits in the past seven days with 27 samples collected. Algal bloom conditions were observed by samplers at 10 of the sites, but none are in Southwest Florida. The Florida department of Environmental Protection also sampled the Caloosahatchee estuary found no blue-green algae.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, are a group of organisms that can live in freshwater, saltwater or brackish water. Large concentrations, called blooms, can change the water color to blue, green, brown, orange or red. Some cyanobacterial blooms can look like foam, scum, or mats on the surface of freshwater lakes and ponds. As algae in a cyanobacterial bloom die, the water may smell bad

Is blue-green algae harmful?

Different types of blue-green algal bloom species can look different and have different impacts. However, regardless of species, many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins that can make you or your pets sick if swallowed or possibly cause skin and eye irritation. The Florida department of Environmental Protection advises staying out of water where algae is visibly present as specks or mats or where water is discolored. Pets or livestock should not come into contact with algal bloom-impacted water or with algal bloom material or fish on the shoreline. If they do, wash the animals immediately.

What causes blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae blooms occur when the algae that are normally present grow in numbers more than normal. Within a few days, a bloom can cause clear water to become cloudy. Winds tend to push some floating blooms to the shore where they become more noticeable. Cyanobacterial blooms can form in warm, slow-moving waters that are rich in nutrients. Blooms can occur at any time, but most often occur in late summer or early fall.

If any major type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.

PREVIOUSLY....

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR NOV. 12, 2022

ANNA MARIA ISLAND - There has been a not-so-quiet resignation in the weeks since Hurricane Ian made landfall in Lee County in late September that red tide would follow, in part because a harmful algae bloom has occurred after other hurricanes in recent years and because the water dropped by the storm has washed an untold amount of nutrient pollution into the coastal system.

Evidence, both anecdotal and proven by research spearheaded by marine scientists in Southwest Florida and published in peer-reviewed academic journals, indicates that while the organism that causes red tide is always present in the Gulf of Mexico the influx of nutrients can help “feed” one making it last longer and be stronger.

Soon after Ian, many of the most popular beaches off Sarasota County tested positive for red tide. Six weeks later even more show evidence plus beaches in Manatee County to the north and Sanibel Island to the south are seeing dead fish wash up on the beaches - a tell-tale sign that red tide blooms are growing.

Just when the water level in Lake Okeechobee started to plateau after Hurricane Ian at a tad under 16 feet – rather typical for November – Hurricane Nicole fed more rainwater into Southwest Florida’s lakes, rivers and streams. The precipitation is expected to lengthen the time that water filled with nutrient pollution will foul Southwest Florida’s coastal ecosystems.

The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation warned, as Nicole approached the state mid-week, that they expected the storm to drop up to six inches of rainwater into Lake Okeechobee and the surrounding region, which will cause the lake to rise more in the days and weeks following the storm.

“Eventually, we expect that rainfall to make its way to the Caloosahatchee” River, SCCF said in an advisory. “Water quality is still poor from Hurricane Ian. We are also experiencing red tide on the west coast, as well as fish kills and red drift algae on Sanibel Island.”

RED TIDE

The Florida Department of Health in Manatee County has issued health alerts for the presence of a red tide bloom all around Anna Maria Island, the barrier island to the south of the mouth of Tampa Bay and within a few miles of the beaches in Sarasota County where red tide is being detected by the health department pretty much everywhere offshore this week,

Off Anna Maria Island, watch for dead fish and respiratory irritation at Bayfront Park, Coquina Beach South, Longboat Pass and the Rod and Reel Pier, which is a few blocks away from the City of Anna Maria Island’s city hall, and is where sampling by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on Nov. 7 was positive, too.

Fish and wildlife confirms the red tide organism, Karenia brevis, is being detected throughout Southwest Florida. Over the past week, K. brevis was observed in 94 samples. Bloom concentrations were present in 40 samples: two in Manatee County, 26 in Sarasota County, 11 in and offshore of Charlotte County, and one in Lee County.

In Southwest Florida over the past week, K. brevis was observed at background to low concentrations offshore of Hillsborough County, background to medium concentrations in Manatee County, background to high concentrations in Sarasota County, very low to high concentrations in and offshore of Charlotte County, very low to high concentrations in Lee County, and low concentrations offshore of Collier County.

Reports of fish kills and respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide were received over the past week in Southwest Florida in Sarasota, Charlotte, and Lee counties.

Call 866-300-9399 to hear a recording about red tide conditions throughout the state. Callers outside of Florida can dial 727-502-4956.

What is red tide?

A red tide, or harmful algal bloom, is a higher-than-normal concentration of a microscopic alga (plantlike organism). In Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, the species that causes most red tides is Karenia brevis. At high concentrations, the organisms may discolor the water, sometimes red, light or dark green, brown or the water may appear clear.

What causes red tide?

A red tide bloom develops naturally, but recent studies have discovered mankind's infusion of other nutrients into the mix can make the red tide last longer or get stronger. But biology (the organisms), chemistry (natural or man-made nutrients for growth) and physics (concentrating and transport mechanisms) interact to produce the algal bloom. No one factor causes the development of a red tide bloom.

BLUE-GREEN ALGEA

The most recent satellite images from NOAA’s Harmful Algal Bloom Monitoring System showed very low bloom potential Lake Okeechobee.

The satellites used by NOAA have technology that allows computers to “see” lower concentration of a harmful algae that may become a bloom in the future. But unlike how seeing the first light in the morning is a sign that sunrise will happen soon, the low concentrations of a harmful algae does not guarantee a bloom is forthcoming.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae also known as cyanobacteria are a group of organisms that can live in freshwater, saltwater, or brackish water. Large concentrations, called blooms, can change the water color to blue, green, brown, orange or red. Some cyanobacterial blooms can look like foam, scum, or mats on the surface of freshwater lakes and ponds. As algae in a cyanobacterial bloom die, the water may smell bad.

What causes blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae blooms occur when the algae that are normally present grow in numbers more than normal. Within a few days, a bloom can cause clear water to become cloudy. Winds tend to push some floating blooms to the shore where they become more noticeable. Cyanobacterial blooms can form in warm, slow-moving waters that are rich in nutrients. Blooms can occur at any time, but most often occur in late summer or early fall.

If any major type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.

PREVIOUSLY ...

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR NOV. 4, 2022

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA - The ground scrubbing done by the massive amount of rain, storm surge, and flood waters from slow-moving Hurricane Ian washed a sick mess of pollutants into the streams and rivers that flow into the bays that mix with the ocean off the beaches of Collier, Lee, and Charlotte counties.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s website this weekend showed their testing found polluted waters nearly everywhere along the coast from Ten Thousand Islands north to Sarasota County.

In DEP-speak the testing found “waterbodies that are not meeting the applicable water quality standards and designated uses.”

That means the water along the coast is extremely polluted.

Think of a hurricane with the particulars of Ian as nature’s washing machine, and the height of the storm being the wash cycle.

More than a foot of rain fell onto the ground being blown, hard, in ever-changing directions rinsing off buildings, cars, traffic lights, business signs, and billboards. Storm surge chugged inland up to two miles in places and was swished about as the storm slowly drifted over and the wind direction constantly changed, scouring roads and sidewalks, filling and draining Dumpsters, washing over farms and yards.

As Ian moved away, the rinse cycle started.

All that water, filled with the pollutants of everyday life, flooded back toward the Gulf of Mexico gathering more detritus on the way: nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizers; human waste from an unknown percentage of the region’s 100,000-plus septic systems that were inundated; animal feces, whether from critters in the woods or thoughtless dog owners not picking up after their animals; motor oil, rubber from tires, microplastics from discarded face masks, cigarette butts filled with chemicals, and tons and tons of garbage.

Tourist officials and beach town mayors aren’t going to want to hear this, but the water quality is so poor it’s best to stay away from the beaches. If you do go stay on land. Don’t eat clams and other shellfish from Southwest Florida for the time being.

Water this polluted can be deadly. Necrotizing fasciitis, what doctors hate to hear called “flesh-eating bacteria,” is a caused by a nasty bacterial infection that can get into your system from a scrape or a nick from shaving. The Florida Department of Health on Friday reported an uptick in cases of flesh-eating bacteria so far this year that it attributes to Hurricane Ian: 66 infections and 13 deaths statewide; 28 and 6 of those, respectively, were in Lee County.

The infection moves really fast and can start killing muscles and tendons within hours and, untreated, can lead to a quick and painful death. The process is pretty gross, so if you care to know more click here for information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

RED TIDE

The red tide organism, Karenia brevis, was found in 50 water samples during the last week in Southwest Florida, with concentration high enough to cause a bloom found in the waters off Sarasota and Charlotte counties. Background or low concentrations were found in samples from Lee and Collier counties.

Reports of fish kills suspected to be related to red tide were received over the past week in Sarasota, Charlotte, and Lee counties, as were cases of respiratory irritation.

Call 866-300-9399 to hear a recording about red tide conditions throughout the state. Callers outside of Florida can dial 727-502-4956.

What is red tide?

A red tide, or harmful algal bloom, is a higher-than-normal concentration of a microscopic alga (plantlike organism). In Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, the species that causes most red tides is Karenia brevis. At high concentrations, the organisms may discolor the water, sometimes red, light or dark green, brown or the water may appear clear.

What causes red tide?

A red tide bloom develops naturally, but recent studies have discovered mankind's infusion of other nutrients into the mix can make the red tide last longer or get stronger. But biology (the organisms), chemistry (natural or man-made nutrients for growth) and physics (concentrating and transport mechanisms) interact to produce the algal bloom. No one factor causes the development of a red tide bloom.

BLUE-GREEN ALGAE

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection collected 14 samples to test for the presence of the cyanotoxins that cause blue-green algae and none in Southwest Florida were positive.

Satellite imagery for Lake Okeechobee from Nov. 3 shows about 5% coverage of low scattered bloom potential, and found Caloosahatchee shows no significant bloom potential in visible portions of the Caloosahatchee River estuary.

Pockets of blue-green algae can be found in small patches and low concentrations in tributaries of the Caloosahatchee and Peace rivers and approaching San Carlos Bay near the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae also known as cyanobacteria are a group of organisms that can live in freshwater, saltwater or brackish water. Large concentrations, called blooms, can change the water color to blue, green, brown, orange or red. Some cyanobacterial blooms can look like foam, scum, or mats on the surface of freshwater lakes and ponds. As algae in a cyanobacterial bloom die, the water may smell bad.

What causes blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae blooms occur when the algae that are normally present grow in numbers more than normal. Within a few days, a bloom can cause clear water to become cloudy. Winds tend to push some floating blooms to the shore where they become more noticeable. Cyanobacterial blooms can form in warm, slow-moving waters that are rich in nutrients. Blooms can occur at any time, but most often occur in late summer or early fall.

If any major type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.

PREVIOUSLY ...

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR OCT. 28, 2022

TIGERTALE BEACH PARK – You’re not going to hear the following very often from Southwest Florida tourism officials, beach-town mayor: Stay away from some of the most beautiful beaches in the country until further notice.

More than a month after Hurricane Ian made landfall in Southwest Florida, there are double red flag warnings from Marco Island in Collier County north to Stump Pass Beach State Park in Charlotte County.

That means the water is closed due to elevated levels of nutrient pollution, bacteria and potential viruses in and near the water. Even being on the beach is discouraged because high surf is causing rip currents and the hurricane continues to wash up both organic and man-made debris on the sand that could be dangerous.

Red Tide

A red tide that was first detected off Sarasota County’s beaches last week is expanding south this week as marine biologists expected.

Medium and high concentrations of Karenia brevis red tide indicators have been present during the last eight days in Charlotte Harbor and to its north. If it continues the water will lose its oxygen and fish kills will begin, red tide molecules will fill the air, and animals and some humans will get sick, some very.

No reports of fish kills suspected to be related to red tide were received over the past week.

Respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide was reported over the past week in Sarasota County.

Call 866-300-9399 to hear a recording about red tide conditions throughout the state. Callers outside of Florida can dial 727-502-4956.

What is red tide?

A red tide, or harmful algal bloom, is a higher-than-normal concentration of a microscopic alga (plantlike organism). In Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, the species that causes most red tides is Karenia brevis. At high concentrations, the organisms may discolor the water, sometimes red, light or dark green, brown or the water may appear clear.

What causes red tide?

A red tide bloom develops naturally, but recent studies have discovered mankind's infusion of other nutrients into the mix can make the red tide last longer or get stronger. But biology (the organisms), chemistry (natural or man-made nutrients for growth) and physics (concentrating and transport mechanisms) interact to produce the algal bloom. No one factor causes the development of a red tide bloom.

BLUE-GREEN ALGAE

The Florida Department of Health conducted 18 reported site visits in the past seven days with 18 samples collected. Algal bloom conditions were observed by samplers at five of the sites.

Satellite imagery for Lake Okeechobee from Oct. 27 shows approximately 5% coverage of low scattered bloom potential on the lake.

Satellite imagery for the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries from 10/27 shows no significant bloom potential in visible portions of the estuaries.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae also known as cyanobacteria are a group of organisms that can live in freshwater, saltwater or brackish water. Large concentrations, called blooms, can change the water color to blue, green, brown, orange or red. Some cyanobacterial blooms can look like foam, scum, or mats on the surface of fresh water lakes and ponds. As algae in a cyanobacterial bloom die, the water may smell bad.

What causes blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae blooms occur when the algae that are normally present grow in numbers more than normal. Within a few days, a bloom can cause clear water to become cloudy. Winds tend to push some floating blooms to the shore where they become more noticeable. Cyanobacterial blooms can form in warm, slow-moving waters that are rich in nutrients. Blooms can occur at any time, but most often occur in late summer or early fall.

If any major type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you. - TB

If any major type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR OCT. 21, 2022

SARASOTA – There is circumstantial evidence that hurricane can cause red tide blooms, or feed small concentrations of the organism that cause red tide that normally wouldn’t develop into a full bloom but does because of the nutrients flushed from the coast by tropical storm rains, flooding, and winds.

Currently, scientists from Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota and the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation are at sea on a mission to prove the phenomena scientifically.

It seems to make sense. Several peer-reviewed studies led by Florida universities published this year have proven what has long been suspected: streams and river carry fertilizers full of nitrogen and phosphorus, and nutrient pollution from leaky septic tanks, into the Gulf of Mexico that have been proven to make red tides that are stronger and last stronger than if mankind didn’t “feed” the blooms.

And red tides have followed many hurricanes in recent years.

Now, on the heels of Hurricane Ian last month, it's happening again.

RED TIDE

Testing water samples found red tide in 25 samples in Southwest Florida, most in the waters along the popular beaches in mid-Sarasota County.

Health advisories were issued due to the presence the red tide organism, Karenia brevis, for Venice Beach, Brohard Beach, and Caspersen Beach in Venice, the Venice Fishing Pier, Service Club Park, and Nokomis and North Jetty beaches on Casey Key.

In Southwest Florida over the past week, K. brevis was observed at background concentrations offshore of Manatee County, background to high concentrations in and offshore of Sarasota County, very low concentrations in Charlotte County, and background concentrations offshore of Lee County.

No reports of fish kills suspected to be related to red tide were received over the past week.

Respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide was reported over the past week in Sarasota County.

Call 866-300-9399 to hear a recording about red tide conditions throughout the state. Callers outside of Florida can dial 727-502-4956.

What is red tide?

A red tide, or harmful algal bloom, is a higher-than-normal concentration of a microscopic alga (plantlike organism). In Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, the species that causes most red tides is Karenia brevis. At high concentrations, the organisms may discolor the water, sometimes red, light or dark green, brown or the water may appear clear.

What causes red tide?

A red tide bloom develops when biology (the organisms), chemistry (natural or man-made nutrients for growth) and physics (concentrating and transport mechanisms) interact to produce the algal bloom. No one factor causes the development of a red tide bloom.

BLUE-GREEN ALGAE

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection collected 35 samples to test for the presence of the cyanotoxins that cause blue-green algae and none in Southwest Florida were positive.

The most recent usable satellite imagery for Lake Okeechobee shows approximately 5% coverage of low bloom potential in the southwest quadrant of the lake.

The most recent useable satellite imagery for the Caloosahatchee Estuary from shows no significant bloom potential in visible portions of the estuary. Pockets of blue-green algae can be found in small patches and in low concentrations in tributaries of the Caloosahatchee and Peace rivers, and approaching San Carlos Bay near the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae also known as cyanobacteria are a group of organisms that can live in freshwater, saltwater or brackish water. Large concentrations, called blooms, can change the water color to blue, green, brown, orange or red. Some cyanobacterial blooms can look like foam, scum, or mats on the surface of fresh water lakes and ponds. As algae in a cyanobacterial bloom die, the water may smell bad.

What causes blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae blooms occur when the algae that are normally present grow in numbers more than normal. Within a few days, a bloom can cause clear water to become cloudy. Winds tend to push some floating blooms to the shore where they become more noticeable. Cyanobacterial blooms can form in warm, slow-moving waters that are rich in nutrients. Blooms can occur at any time, but most often occur in late summer or early fall.

If any major type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you. - TB

PREVIOUSLY ...

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR OCT. 16, 2022

CAPE CORAL – Since WGCU’s last Water Quality Report one of the strongest hurricanes on record to make landfall in Southwest Florida walloped Lee, Collier, and Charlotte counties as a strong Category 4 tropical cyclone. Hurricane Ian slowed as it neared Southwest Florida, dumping more than a foot of rain with wind gusts more than 140 miles per hour.

It will be months – perhaps longer - until the coastal environment in Southwest Florida recovers from the mayhem Ian wrought: a storm surge of 12 feet, two miles inland; on some barrier islands the surge topped 15 feet, fresh rainwater flowing down the Caloosahatchee River ran into saltwater being forced by the high winds and tides up the same waterway, tens of thousands leaky septic tanks only feet above the water table pre-storm were engulfed by floodwaters, taking nitrogen-rich raw human waste and mixing it with phosphorus-rich runoff from lawns already inundated with oils and plastics and garbage and animal feces and sending all of it into the region’s waterways.

There is so much stuff that is not supposed to be in the rivers, bays, and Gulf of Mexico that an image from space shows discolored coastal waters throughout Southwest Florida.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Saturday that water quality sampling in Southwest Florida is still impacted by the passage of Hurricane Ian.

RED TIDE

The red tide organism, Karenia brevis, was observed at background concentrations in four samples collected offshore of Southwest Florida over the past week.

In Southwest Florida over the past week, K. brevis was observed at background concentrations 30-40 miles offshore of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties

No reports of fish kills suspected to be related to red tide were received over the past week. Respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide was not reported in Florida over the past week.

What is red tide?

A red tide, or harmful algal bloom, is a higher-than-normal concentration of a microscopic alga (plantlike organism). In Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, the species that causes most red tides is Karenia brevis. At high concentrations, the organisms may discolor the water, sometimes red, light or dark green, brown or the water may appear clear.

What causes red tide?

A red tide bloom develops when biology (the organisms), chemistry (natural or man-made nutrients for growth) and physics (concentrating and transport mechanisms) interact to produce the algal bloom. No one factor causes the development of a red tide bloom.

Call 866-300-9399 at any time from anywhere in Florida to hear a recording about red tide conditions throughout the state. Callers outside of Florida can dial 727-502-4956.

BLUE-GREEN ALGAE

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection reported none of its water samples tested positive for blue-green algae in Southwest Florida during the last week.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae also known as cyanobacteria are a group of organisms that can live in freshwater, saltwater or brackish water. Large concentrations, called blooms, can change the water color to blue, green, brown, orange or red. Some cyanobacterial blooms can look like foam, scum, or mats on the surface of fresh water lakes and ponds. As algae in a cyanobacterial bloom die, the water may smell bad.

What causes blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae blooms occur when the algae that are normally present grow in numbers more than normal. Within a few days, a bloom can cause clear water to become cloudy. Winds tend to push some floating blooms to the shore where they become more noticeable. Cyanobacterial blooms can form in warm, slow-moving waters that are rich in nutrients. Blooms can occur at any time, but most often occur in late summer or early fall.

If any major type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR SEPT. 26, 2022

SAN CARLOS BAY – Hurricane Ian is poised to dump so much rain on the region’s lakes, rivers, and watersheds this week that if the tropical system stays on its forecast track any situation with harmful algal blooms in Southwest Florida as of Sept. 25 is certain to change.

Over the weekend, the most current reports from state environmental agencies, conservation groups, and citizens found harmful algal blooms such as red tide or large blue-green algae concentrations largely non-existent in Southwest Florida.

RED TIDE

The red tide organism, Karenia brevis, was not observed in samples collected statewide over the past week, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

No reports of fish kills suspected to be related to red tide were received over the the past week. And respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide was not reported in Florida over the past week

Call 866-300-9399 at any time from anywhere in Florida to hear a recording about red tide conditions throughout the state. Callers outside of Florida can dial 727-502-4956.

BLUE-GREEN ALGAE

State and local health agencies conducted blue-green algae sampling within the previous week and found evidence of the harmful algae bloom in places that include the following areas: Peace River, Josephine River, Lake Okeechobee, and the Caloosahatchee River near Dimple Creek and Cat Cay, Shell Point Road, and Lakes Park.

Some of the algae was visible, but in other places it was only in background concentrations detectable only by lab testing of the water.

Most of the places the algae were found was in the shallows around shoreline of Lake O, upriver and in tributaries of the Caloosahatchee and Peace rivers, and approaching San Carlos Bay near the mouth of the Caloosahatchee.

If any major type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR SEPT. 18, 2022

FORT MYERS - Reports from state environmental agencies, conservation groups, and citizens said the major waterways in Southwest Florida were clear of red tide, blue-green algae, and other harmful algae blooms.

There were some minor reports offshore and in the Caloosahatchee River.

RED TIDE

The red tide organism, Karenia brevis, was observed at background concentrations in one sample from Southwest Florida over the past week 15 miles offshore of Collier County.

No reports of fish kills or respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide were received during the past week.

BLUE-GREEN ALGAE

The Lee County Environmental Lab reported the presence of Microcystis in the Caloosahatchee River upstream of the Franklin Locks as sparse specks and slight accumulation along the lock, and the same component of blue-green algae was reported as moderately abundant at the Davis Boat Ramp.

If any type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR AUG. 26, 2022

SAN CARLOS BAY - While algae blooms can, and do, occur in every month of the year, in Southwest Florida late summer and early fall is prime time. But just like the lack of tropical storms so far during this year's hurricane season, no significant red tide or blue-green outbreaks have yet occurred - and it's a good bet that nobody's complaining.

Red tide

The red tide organism, Karenia brevis, was not observed in samples collected in Southwest Florida during the last week, nor was there any fish kills or respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide was not reported anywhere in Florida.

Blue-Green Algae

The Lee County Environmental Lab reported the presence of minor evidence of harmful algae blooms on Aug. 22 at the Alva and Davis boat ramps as sparse visible specks. The same was noticed upstream at the Franklin Locks as sparse visible specks with slight accumulation along the locks.

This is WGCU Public Media's Water Quality Report that is updated weekly to inform the public about any harmful blooms, such as red tide or blue-green algae, and any "no-swim" advisories at any of the region's beaches. For more, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has a dashboard with a plethora of real-time information about harmful algae blooms.

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR AUG. 17, 2022

The Florida Department of Health in Lee County is advising the public not to enter the water at Bonita Beach Park due to high levels of the Enterococcus bacteria. The park is at 27954 Hickory Boulevard in Bonita Springs.

Tests completed July 14 indicated that the water at the park did not meet the recreational quality criteria for Enterococcus bacteria, which are found inside the intestinal tract of humans and animals. The presence of an elevated concentration of these bacteria in the water at the shoreline is an indicator of a nearby sewage leak, pet waste in storm water runoff, and wildlife activity.

Getting in the water, walking along the water's edge, even being splashed by the water poses an increased risk of disease, particularly for the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, and the very young. Animals are susceptible, too, so pets should be kept from reaching the waterline. Elevated levels of Enterococcus bacteria have been associated with an increased risk of diarrhea and abdominal pain.

This advisory will continue until bacteria levels are below acceptable limits. The results of follow-up tests will announced July 19. For more information, go to http://lee.floridahealth.gov/

Blue-green algae health alert cancelled

A health alert issued last week due to an outbreak of blue-green algae at the Davis Boat Ramp near the Franklin Locks on the Caloosahatchee River has been lifted. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection gave the all-clear after taking samples of the water and no longer finding high levels of cyanobacteria toxins.

The Davis Boat Ramp and the nearby Alva Boat Ramp both allow the public to launch watercraft into the Caloosahatchee River. The water surrounding the ramps tests positive for high levels of cyanobacteria, which is a toxin at the heart of a blue-green algae bloom, rather frequently during the summer.

In fact, the Lee County Environmental Lab reported blue-green algae toxins in water samples taken from the Alva Boat Ramp earlier this week, which appeared as "yellow-green scum along" the shore.

Not only does that often result in a nasty scum on the surface, along with floating dead mats of algae, but it can also make people and animals sick when interacting with the water or breathing nearby air. Exposure to high levels of blue-green algae and their toxins can cause diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, as well as skin, eye or throat irritation, and allergic reactions or breathing difficulties

If any type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission compiles real-time information on red tide, including maps and reports, on the FWRI Red Tide website. The site also provides related links to additional information including satellite images, red tide forecasts, shellfish harvesting areas, and contacts at the Florida Poison Information Center, which people can contact if they believe exposure to red tide has made them ill. The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Sciences has current satellite images searching for early signs of red tide off Southwest Florida , and Mote Marine Laboratory's Beach Conditions Report provides up-to-date information about which, if any, beaches in Southwest Florida are being affected by a red tide. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has a dashboard with a plethora of real-time information about harmful algae blooms. Learn more about harmful algae blooms here.

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR SEPT. 18, 2022

FORT MYERS - Reports from state environmental agencies, conservation groups, and citizens said the major waterways in Southwest Florida were clear of red tide, blue-green algae, and other harmful algae blooms.

There were some minor reports offshore and in the Caloosahatchee River.

RED TIDE

The red tide organism, Karenia brevis, was observed at background concentrations in one sample from Southwest Florida over the past week 15 miles offshore of Collier County.

No reports of fish kills or respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide were received during the past week.

BLUE-GREEN ALGAE

The Lee County Environmental Lab reported the presence of Microcystis in the Caloosahatchee River upstream of the Franklin Locks as sparse specks and slight accumulation along the lock, and the same component of blue-green algae was reported as moderately abundant at the Davis Boat Ramp.

If any type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.
PREVIOUSLY...

PREVIOUSLY ...

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR OCT. 16, 2022
CAPE CORAL – Since WGCU’s last Water Quality Report one of the strongest hurricanes on record to make landfall in Southwest Florida walloped Lee, Collier, and Charlotte counties as a strong Category 4 tropical cyclone. Hurricane Ian slowed as it neared Southwest Florida, dumping more than a foot of rain with wind gusts more than 140 miles per hour.

It will be months – perhaps longer - until the coastal environment in Southwest Florida recovers from the mayhem Ian wrought: a storm surge of 12 feet, two miles inland; on some barrier islands the surge topped 15 feet, fresh rainwater flowing down the Caloosahatchee River ran into saltwater being forced by the high winds and tides up the same waterway, tens of thousands leaky septic tanks only feet above the water table pre-storm were engulfed by floodwaters, taking nitrogen-rich raw human waste and mixing it with phosphorus-rich runoff from lawns already inundated with oils and plastics and garbage and animal feces and sending all of it into the region’s waterways.

There is so much stuff that is not supposed to be in the rivers, bays, and Gulf of Mexico that an image from space shows discolored coastal waters throughout Southwest Florida.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Saturday that water quality sampling in Southwest Florida is still impacted by the passage of Hurricane Ian.

RED TIDE

The red tide organism, Karenia brevis, was observed at background concentrations in four samples collected offshore of Southwest Florida over the past week.

In Southwest Florida over the past week, K. brevis was observed at background concentrations 30-40 miles offshore of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties

No reports of fish kills suspected to be related to red tide were received over the past week. Respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide was not reported in Florida over the past week.

What is red tide?

A red tide, or harmful algal bloom, is a higher-than-normal concentration of a microscopic alga (plantlike organism). In Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, the species that causes most red tides is Karenia brevis. At high concentrations, the organisms may discolor the water, sometimes red, light or dark green, brown or the water may appear clear.

What causes red tide?

A red tide bloom develops when biology (the organisms), chemistry (natural or man-made nutrients for growth) and physics (concentrating and transport mechanisms) interact to produce the algal bloom. No one factor causes the development of a red tide bloom.

Call 866-300-9399 at any time from anywhere in Florida to hear a recording about red tide conditions throughout the state. Callers outside of Florida can dial 727-502-4956.

BLUE-GREEN ALGAE

Testing was unable to be done during the past week due to Hurricane Ian

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae also known as cyanobacteria are a group of organisms that can live in freshwater, saltwater or brackish water. Large concentrations, called blooms, can change the water color to blue, green, brown, orange or red. Some cyanobacterial blooms can look like foam, scum, or mats on the surface of fresh water lakes and ponds. As algae in a cyanobacterial bloom die, the water may smell bad.

What causes blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae blooms occur when the algae that are normally present grow in numbers more than normal. Within a few days, a bloom can cause clear water to become cloudy. Winds tend to push some floating blooms to the shore where they become more noticeable. Cyanobacterial blooms can form in warm, slow-moving waters that are rich in nutrients. Blooms can occur at any time, but most often occur in late summer or early fall.

If any major type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR SEPT. 26, 2022
SAN CARLOS BAY – Hurricane Ian is poised to dump so much rain on the region’s lakes, rivers, and watersheds this week that if the tropical system stays on its forecast track any situation with harmful algal blooms in Southwest Florida as of Sept. 25 is certain to change.

Over the weekend, the most current reports from state environmental agencies, conservation groups, and citizens found harmful algal blooms such as red tide or large blue-green algae concentrations largely non-existent in Southwest Florida.

RED TIDE

The red tide organism, Karenia brevis, was not observed in samples collected statewide over the past week, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

No reports of fish kills suspected to be related to red tide were received over the the past week. And respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide was not reported in Florida over the past week

Call 866-300-9399 at any time from anywhere in Florida to hear a recording about red tide conditions throughout the state. Callers outside of Florida can dial 727-502-4956.

BLUE-GREEN ALGAE

State and local health agencies conducted blue-green algae sampling within the previous week and found evidence of the harmful algae bloom in places that include the following areas: Peace River, Josephine River, Lake Okeechobee, and the Caloosahatchee River near Dimple Creek and Cat Cay, Shell Point Road, and Lakes Park.

Some of the algae was visible, but in other places it was only in background concentrations detectable only by lab testing of the water.
Most of the places the algae were found was in the shallows around shoreline of Lake O, upriver and in tributaries of the Caloosahatchee and Peace rivers, and approaching San Carlos Bay near the mouth of the Caloosahatchee.
If any major type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.
WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR SEPT. 18, 2022
FORT MYERS - Reports from state environmental agencies, conservation groups, and citizens said the major waterways in Southwest Florida were clear of red tide, blue-green algae, and other harmful algae blooms.

There were some minor reports offshore and in the Caloosahatchee River.
RED TIDE
The red tide organism, Karenia brevis, was observed at background concentrations in one sample from Southwest Florida over the past week 15 miles offshore of Collier County.
No reports of fish kills or respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide were received during the past week.
BLUE-GREEN ALGAE
The Lee County Environmental Lab reported the presence of Microcystis in the Caloosahatchee River upstream of the Franklin Locks as sparse specks and slight accumulation along the lock, and the same component of blue-green algae was reported as moderately abundant at the Davis Boat Ramp.
If any type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 
Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.
WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.
WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR AUG. 26, 2022
SAN CARLOS BAY - While algae blooms can, and do, occur in every month of the year, in Southwest Florida late summer and early fall is prime time. But just like the lack of tropical storms so far during this year's hurricane season, no significant red tide or blue-green outbreaks have yet occurred - and it's a good bet that nobody's complaining.

Red tide

The red tide organism, Karenia brevis, was not observed in samples collected in Southwest Florida during the last week, nor was there any fish kills or respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide was not reported anywhere in Florida.

Blue-Green Algae

The Lee County Environmental Lab reported the presence of minor evidence of harmful algae blooms on Aug. 22 at the Alva and Davis boat ramps as sparse visible specks. The same was noticed upstream at the Franklin Locks as sparse visible specks with slight accumulation along the locks.

This is WGCU Public Media's Water Quality Report that is updated weekly to inform the public about any harmful blooms, such as red tide or blue-green algae, and any "no-swim" advisories at any of the region's beaches. For more, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has a dashboard with a plethora of real-time information about harmful algae blooms.

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR AUG. 17, 2022

The Florida Department of Health in Lee County is advising the public not to enter the water at Bonita Beach Park due to high levels of the Enterococcus bacteria. The park is at 27954 Hickory Boulevard in Bonita Springs.

Tests completed July 14 indicated that the water at the park did not meet the recreational quality criteria for Enterococcus bacteria, which are found inside the intestinal tract of humans and animals. The presence of an elevated concentration of these bacteria in the water at the shoreline is an indicator of a nearby sewage leak, pet waste in storm water runoff, and wildlife activity.

Getting in the water, walking along the water's edge, even being splashed by the water poses an increased risk of disease, particularly for the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, and the very young. Animals are susceptible, too, so pets should be kept from reaching the waterline. Elevated levels of Enterococcus bacteria have been associated with an increased risk of diarrhea and abdominal pain.

This advisory will continue until bacteria levels are below acceptable limits. The results of follow-up tests will announced July 19. For more information, go to http://lee.floridahealth.gov/

Blue-green algae health alert cancelled

A health alert issued last week due to an outbreak of blue-green algae at the Davis Boat Ramp near the Franklin Locks on the Caloosahatchee River has been lifted. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection gave the all-clear after taking samples of the water and no longer finding high levels of cyanobacteria toxins.

The Davis Boat Ramp and the nearby Alva Boat Ramp both allow the public to launch watercraft into the Caloosahatchee River. The water surrounding the ramps tests positive for high levels of cyanobacteria, which is a toxin at the heart of a blue-green algae bloom, rather frequently during the summer.

In fact, the Lee County Environmental Lab reported blue-green algae toxins in water samples taken from the Alva Boat Ramp earlier this week, which appeared as "yellow-green scum along" the shore.

Not only does that often result in a nasty scum on the surface, along with floating dead mats of algae, but it can also make people and animals sick when interacting with the water or breathing nearby air. Exposure to high levels of blue-green algae and their toxins can cause diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, as well as skin, eye or throat irritation, and allergic reactions or breathing difficulties

If any type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission compiles real-time information on red tide, including maps and reports, on the FWRI Red Tide website. The site also provides related links to additional information including satellite images, red tide forecasts, shellfish harvesting areas, and contacts at the Florida Poison Information Center, which people can contact if they believe exposure to red tide has made them ill. The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Sciences has current satellite images searching for early signs of red tide off Southwest Florida , and Mote Marine Laboratory's Beach Conditions Report provides up-to-date information about which, if any, beaches in Southwest Florida are being affected by a red tide. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has a dashboard with a plethora of real-time information about harmful algae blooms. Learn more about harmful algae blooms here.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.
WATER QUALITY UPDATE FOR JULY 22, 2022

The no-swim advisory at the Bonita Beach Park has been lifted.

The Florida Department of Health in Lee County is advising the public it is OK to swim at Bonita Beach Park, which for the last week had been under a no-swim advisory due to high levels of the Enterococcus bacteria. The park is at 27954 Hickory Boulevard in Bonita Springs.

Water quality testing on July 20 showed harmful bacteria amounts under the “beach action” level, which means that the water at the park meets recreational quality standards.

Red Tide

The red tide organism, Karenia brevis, was observed at background concentrations in Southwest Florida offshore of Collier County.

No reports of fish kills suspected to be related to red tide were received over the past week.

Respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide was not reported in Florida over the past week.

Blue-green algae health alert cancelled

A health alert issued last week due to an outbreak of blue-green algae at the Davis Boat Ramp near the Franklin Locks on the Caloosahatchee River has been lifted. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection gave the all-clear after taking samples of the water and no longer finding high levels of cyanobacteria toxins.

The Davis Boat Ramp and the nearby Alva Boat Ramp both allow the public to launch watercraft into the Caloosahatchee River. The water surrounding the ramps tests positive for high levels of cyanobacteria, which is a toxin at the heart of a blue-green algae bloom, rather frequently during the summer.

While there were no high levels of blue-green algae toxins, water samples taken from the Alva Boat Ramp earlier this week found some components of cyanobacteria in the water. Exposure to high levels of blue-green algae and their toxins can cause diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, as well as skin, eye or throat irritation, and allergic reactions or breathing difficulties

If any type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.

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