VENICE, FL (WWSB) -- Fish, sea turtles, dolphins, and even whale sharks are being killed by the toxic algae in our waters.
"When they're still alive, they are very disoriented and have a hard time. They're uncoordinated. Then they have these flurries that are almost like seizures that then make them comatose. You don't exactly know what to expect. They also come in full of edema, almost like they're swollen. Those are the very typical things we see with these red tide toxicities," Gretchen Lovewell, Staff Scientist of MOTE, told us.
However, if you happen to come across one of these animals in distress, there is something you can do to help.
"The quicker we can get to them, and the quicker we can get them out of the environment, the better,” Gretchen said.
Marine experts say the first thing you should do is either call MOTE Marine (941-988-0212) or Florida Fish and Wildlife (800-636-0511).
"Any kind of documentation people can provide us when they're on scene can be really helpful. It helps us make decisions about how many people we need to bring, what equipment we need to bring... so any kind of photo documentation or even video documentation is really key to help us, so that we can get the right people there or to tell the people who are there what they should do,” explained Gretchen.
Then try and stay with them until the right help arrives.
If the animal is small enough that you can carry it on your own to shore then you can do so, but if it's a large mammal like a manatee, experts say to wait for help because you or the animal can become more injured.
It's also important to report any sick or dead marine life because if the toxins stay in the water or in the air, the algae bloom will just keep spreading.
Copyright 2018 WWSB. All rights reserved.