Water-Related News

Red tide bloom killing fish, sea turtles in Fort Myers area

Dead Goliath grouper, tarpon, snook, sea turtles, manatees.

Fishing guide Chris O'Neill has filmed them all this week while documenting the effects of a strong red tide bloom that's lingering off the Southwest Florida coast.

"It’s pretty bad, and it smells like massive death," O'Neill said. "I saw a manatee and a sea turtle and six tarpon dead in one small body of water. I only had to look for a couple of hours. It wasn’t hard to find. I could see about six Goliaths laying on the beach at Boca Grande."

Dead fish have been washing up on Southwest Florida beaches for months now, since a long-lived bloom started in October.

But mostly those fish were mullet, which will actually eat the red tide, and small baitfish, which can't swim far distances to escape the toxic algal blooms.

Now breeding-age gamefish like snook, grouper and tarpon are dying, a sign that the bloom has become more intense in coastal waters.

"I've spent 10 years studying Goliath grouper and tagging them, and I just watched the whole population of Charlotte Harbor die," O'Neill said. "The future of the fishery was cut off at the knees."