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Red tide continues to make its way through southwest Florida waterways

Red tide Bunche Beach
Posted at 4:48 PM, Nov 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-17 19:32:31-05

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Red tide continues to make its way across southwest Florida waterways. Some areas are not feeling the full effect, though many beaches are seeing some traces of the bloom.

"It's pretty dynamic where it's at," said John Cassani with Calusa Waterkeeper.

The non-profit organization aims to protect waterways and track any harmful bacteria, such as red tide. He says the algae is spread across at least 1,000 square miles in southwest Florida.

"It's out there in various densities," he said. "It's getting up there to medium, high levels now."

According to the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation, a water sample from this week shows medium levels of red tide in this week's report. 473,000 cells/liters were found. In a chart on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation's website, anything between 100,000 and 1,000,000 is considered medium.

Harmful red tide algal blooms creeping down the Gulf Coast.

This can lead to respiratory irritation, shellfish harvesting closures, fish kills, and the detection of surface chlorophyll by satellites.

"Bunche Beach would have high enough salinity to support Karenia (red tide)," Cassani said. "The systemic effects of the lingering red tide after devastation by Hurricane Ian are just really nightmarish consideration."

Cassani doesn't see a short-term solution to mitigating red tide for several reasons, including the extent of it already here.

"The bloom moves around with the wind, the current, the tide," he said.

He says there could be long-term mitigation efforts.

"One paradigm is think globally and act locally kind of thing," Cassani explained. "Reduce your energy footprint, reduce your consumption footprint."

For now, he says we're going to have to ride this out.

"It looks like it's going to be here for a while," Cassani said.

Red tide creeping south along Gulf Coast
Red Tide Blooms in SWFL