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Naples residents say red tide is the worst they've seen in recent years

Posted at 3:35 PM, Mar 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-07 10:56:58-05

A bloom of red tide is lingering along the coast of Southwest Florida.

In past week, people visiting Vanderbilt Beach in Collier County said it’s the worst they have ever seen. Even residents living in the area said red tide has never been this in recent years.

It’s a sight no one wants to see when coming to the beach: lots of dead fish on the shore.

“We are making the best of it and staying positive,” said Maria Brewer, a visitor from New Jersey. “I don't think my kids are fans of smelling the dead fish and grossed out by seeing them"

The Brewer family from New Jersey told FOX 4 that they’ve been vacationing at Vanderbilt Beach every winter for the past five years. They said they have never seen or heard red tide get this bad.

“The past two days when we sat down on the beach, we noticed everyone was coughing and we thought the flu had made its way down here but then we realized it was from the red tide," said Brewer.

Florida Fish and Wildlife said it’s all due to a red tide bloom that isn't going away.

Right now, there are low concentrations of red tide in Collier and Charlotte County. There are also medium concentrations in Lee County.

For most people, red tide isn't dangerous.

However, those with chronic respiratory conditions like asthma should avoid the beaches.

Many beachgoers said they have been feeling the effects from red tide such as coughing and difficulty breathing.

"I took a short walk and I could already feel myself coughing,” said John Ball, visitor from Michigan. “Then I looked down and saw a number of dead fish."

Ball said he’s seen some pretty sizable dead fish laying on the shore.

 Several beachgoers said they are keeping in good spirits while on vacation.

“If anyone starts coughing, we will make our way back up to the pool and don't want to take a chance anyone not feeling well while on vacation," said Brewer.

“I am hopeful it goes away because we have some nieces and nephews coming in and everyone wants to come to the beach,” said Ball. “The last thing we want is fish and red seaweed washing up on our feet."

Most red tide conditions along Southwest Florida are expected to stay the same until Thursday. 

Florida Fish and Wildlife said they will be testing the coastal areas again this week.