NewsProtecting Paradise


Red Tide causing hundreds of dead fish to wash up along Bonita Beach

Posted at 9:01 PM, Dec 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-17 21:01:25-05

BONITA SPRINGS — Red Tide blooms are now killing fish all along the coastline in Bonita Springs.

The Department of Health also has signs up warning people about possible respiratory issues if you breath it in. Out on Bonita Beach, people were out and about Thursday, despite the air being a little difficult to breath.

"The Red Tide was a bit of a surprise to us, because at first we were just kind of unexplained coughing, and with COVID fear, everybody was like what’s going on," said J.J. Mokarzel.

Then Mokarzel said he spotted the signs put out by the Department of Health, and saw the fish washing up on shore.

"Seeing dead fish on the beach, they’re not big ones, but there are a lot of small ones. It’s disturbing, and then I see the birds eating them, and then you have to presume the birds will be affected," said Mokarzel.

At the FGCU Water School, they said it was just a matter of time before we saw dead fish.

"We were all just kind of waiting for the shoe to drop," said Executive Director Greg Tolley.

Tolley said he had a feeling Red Tide blooms were coming when water releases from Lake Okeechobee were extended all the way through November.

"The November rains that have led to some fresh water releases coming down the Caloosahatchee River, putting extra nutrients in an area that’s already experiencing Red Tide is obviously not going to help the situation," said Tolley.

But Tolley said the dead fish may not end up being as bad as what we saw back in 2018.

"This is so localized, compared to what was going on two years ago, that we don’t see the same kind of impact yet," said Tolley.

You can see the difference when you compare Bonita Beach with Sanibel, where we couldn’t find any dead fish. Mokarzel said he’s accepted that he’ll just have to deal with it for now.

“It passes. It’s a natural occurrence, phenomenon. It’s just unpleasant at the time," said Mozarkel.

Tolley said, because the blooms are so localized, his hope is that the fish will stop washing up on the beach within the next few weeks.