NewsProtecting Paradise


Multiple sea turtles found on SWFL beaches in October, scientists point to red tide

Posted at 6:54 PM, Oct 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-21 18:54:28-04

Red tide has been creeping it’s way back into Southwest Florida with varying levels of concentration reported from Collier County to Sanibel Island.

Fox 4 has reported on fish kills, but now a local conservation group is confirming multiple dead sea turtles have been found and the cause of death points to red tide.

Since May of 2018, Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation has been studying dead sea turtles, last year hundreds washing up on Southwest Florida beaches.

Rick Bartleson, a Research Scientist from SCCF is currently researching 60 of 250 sea turtles that were found dead during last year’s red tide event.

“All the turtle samples except for maybe one had really high levels of brevetoxin in the samples,” said Rick Bartleson, a Research Scientist from SCCF.

The are studying what was found inside sea turtle's stomached, “in the samples from the stomach contents, as well as the livers, and the tissues, high enough so that is likely the cause of death.”

The turtle species are Loggerheads, Kemp Ridley’s, and Green Turtles. They eat filter feeders such as sea grass, clams, or tunicates and when there’s red tide present they consume the toxin.

“This year we are starting to see again, turtles washing up and they are eating the same things,” said Bartleson.

Sea Turtles in 2019 that are suspected to be impacted by red tide courtesy, Center of Rehabilitation for Wildlife (CROW):

Admitted 8/7- Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Admitted 8/9- Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Admitted 9/27- Kemp’s Ridley
Admitted 10/4- Kemp’s Ridley
Admitted 10/9- Green Sea Turtle- Still in care at CROW
Admitted 10/11- Kemp’s Ridley
Admitted 10/14- Kemp’s Ridley
Admitted 10/14- Kemp’s Ridley- Still in care at CROW
Admitted 10/17- Loggerhead Sea Turtle- Still in care at CROW

“There’s a lot to learn about sea turtles in general, and maybe we will learn something that can help keep the endangered species from becoming extinct,” said Bartleson.