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Red tide continues to plague Collier County

Posted at 6:23 PM, Oct 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-17 18:23:29-04

A red tide bloom that has lingered along Collier County's coast in the past couple of weeks left dead fish on its beaches, and has moved into the back bays near Marco Island. Fishermen say while that's good for stone crabs, it's not so good for trapping them.

"I saw fish probably nine days ago dying in Caxambas Pass," said Damas Kirk of Goddland, whose family has fished commercially in Florida for five generations. 

He said that while red tide doesn't really affect the stone crabs he traps, the algae blooms do kill fish that the crabs can then find easily on the sea floor.

"So with red tide, they have a big abundance of food, and they don't go in our traps like they normally would," Kirk said. "We have to wait for the red tide to go away. It's not a good thing for production."

He said that he waited to set his traps until after Hurricane Matthew, but others gambled and set them anyway.

"It was a good thing because red tide hadn't moved in yet, and they caught better," Kirk said.

Red tide left many dead fish on Marco Island's beaches last week. Island visitor Leslie Thompson said it was mostly gone by Friday.

"Just a faint smell of the dead fish, but there weren't a ton," she said. "They had done a really good job of cleaning it up."

Red tide can cause respiratory problems and irritable eyes for beachgoers, but South Beach on Marco Island was back in business on Monday.

Now Kirk is waiting to get back to the stone-crabbing business - once the red tide bloom dies down.

"As soon as it clears up and goes away, we'll be back in business," he said.

For up-to-date information on red tide in Collier County, you can visit colliergov.net/redtideupdate, or call 239-252-2591.