‘Tons of dead fish’ as red tide hits Englewood

People suffered respiratory irritations from Venice to Lido Key

By Steve Reilly, The Daily Sun Staff Writer, Aug 1, 2021

Englewood was hit hard with toxic red tide Sunday.

“The fish were coming in steady streams, and you could smell them already in the parking lot,” said Jean Ranallo in an email Sunday morning. She regularly heads to the public Manasota Key for sunrise swims but skipped that swim Sunday.

Zoe Bass, a primary permit holder overseeing Coastal Wildlife Club volunteer sea turtle patrols, reported mats of dead fish washing ashore.

“Tons of dead fish coming in now,” Bass reported in an email accompanied with photographs of dead fish along the shoreline of Manasota Key. “Grouper, trout, snapper, lots of eels, and some oddball fish.”

South of the county line at Englewood Beach, the reports Sunday were the same.

“(Charlotte County) was at the beach all morning removing dead fish and seaweed,” Mark Timchula posted on his Facebook page Sunday.

Timchula is better known as the “Beach Guy” for his beach umbrella and chair rentals at the public beach. Timchula also reported, “water very dark and the occasional red tide smell in the air.”

On Knight and Don Pedro islands, south of Stump Pass, Brenda Bossman, who is the permit holder overseeing sea turtle patrols, said the islands saw fish washing onto the shore. She detected red tide in the air and experienced light coughing as she walked north, towards Stump Pass.

Inherently, the red tide algae, Karena brevis, is natural to the Gulf in concentrations less than 10,000 per liter of water. However, concentrations more than 100,000 cells per liter of water can result in fish kills and its airborne toxins result in respiratory and other ailments in humans. When the cells reach or exceed a million cells per liter of water, the algae can darken or stain the water reddish brown.

Mote Marine Laboratory daily beach reports Sunday posted similar conditions as what was reported on Manasota Key. People suffered “moderate” to “intense” respiratory irritations on Sarasota County beaches from Venice north to Lido Key.

Lee and Collier counties were spared of similar intensities of red tide Sunday, according to Mote’s reports.

Red tide conditions can change daily. For more information, visit myfwc.com, the scgov.net Red Tide webpage, and visitbeaches.org.

 Image Credits: Zoe Bass