Dec 5, 2022 - News

Dead fish wash ashore as toxic red tide drifts toward Tampa Bay

A fish kill on Casey Key.

Dead fish litter Casey Key recently. Photo: Courtesy of Angela Mariani

Here come the dead fish.

Driving the news: That massive red tide bloom that took hold off the coast of Sarasota County after Hurricane Ian is killing thousands of fish right now and depositing them on some of the world's best beaches.

Why it matters: Beyond widespread fish kills polluting beaches and waterways, toxic red tide can cause respiratory irritation in humans and animals.

  • All of which is not fun, and bad for tourism.

Details: Bloom levels of red tide were found last week in samples taken from Lee, Collier, Sarasota and southern Manatee counties, per the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The latest: FWC reported Friday that fish kills were observed and respiratory irritation was reported in Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee, and Collier counties over the past week.

Between the lines: Scientists say the Karenia brevis bloom is now being fed by nutrients running off the landscape in the wake of Hurricane Ian.

  • "I don't see any good evidence that hurricanes initiate a red tide, but once you have a red tide started, runoff will make it worse," Larry Brand, a water quality expert, scientist and professor at the University of Miami, told the Fort Myers News-Press.
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