In a status report released by FWRI on January 20, 2012, the Karenia brevis bloom which has been present in southwest Florida for the past several months was only detected along two shore areas. Very low concentrations were detected at Lighthouse Beach and Lovers Key State Park (southern Lee County) and very low to low concentrations were found at Caxambas Pass, South Marco Beach and Goodland Bridge (southern Collier County).
Earlier in the month, Nancy Richie, the environmental specialist for the City of Marco Island, was recommending that people with respiratory problems or small children contact their physicians before venturing near the water. She said that individuals who did go in the water shower off after swimming. As for fishing, she stated “ if the fish you catch is lively, you can eat it, but if it looks like it is gulping air, struggling or dead, don’t eat it.” Richie also warned about consuming shell fish that may have been caught in waters in and around the island. Some places on Marco have experienced deposits of dead fish, particularly mullet and shellfish. This bloom is the first to truly affect the Island in several years.
However, the lower concentration of red tide off shore in Lee and Collier Counties does not mean the region is out of the woods yet. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge biologist Tara Wertz says even though the bloom is not as strong as it was, its effects may linger.
“We’ll continue to see the effects of the bloom because the fish that perhaps didn’t die initially were weakened and stressed. Some of them will die eventually,” Wertz says.