CHARLOTTE COUNTY - Dead sea creatures are washing ashore on parts of the Suncoast as part of a massive fish kill along Stump Pass in Englewood. It's something Fish and Wildlife officials say is the result of a large red tide bloom.
Researchers and scientists say they continue to monitor and believe it is possible the bloom could move farther north into Sarasota County.
The dead sea creatures line Stump Pass Park. "Lot of dead fish. It smells pretty bad," says beachgoer Ralph Manning. He say it's more than he's seen in years. "They are just everywhere. You walk reach out for a shell you have to watch out you don't touch a dead fish. It's that bad."
"It is a pretty sizable bloom," says Florida Fish & Wildlife Scientist Alina Corcoran. She says they have been monitoring the algae bloom called Karina Brevis for weeks. "There is currently a bloom off of Charlotte and Lee counties that extends about 35 miles offshore."
The larger concentrations have been offshore, until now. Corcoran says the conditions are just right for the naturally occurring bloom to explode. Too much for many fish and others to survive. "It is a toxin and will paralyze organisms."
Not only is it unsightly and smells bad, for some the red tide causes respiratory problems. "We started coughing a little bit right away," says Manning.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission says some beach visitors are more susceptible. "Some people will experience low to moderate respiratory irritation. People with asthma are certainly more affected when they go to the beaches."
Visitor Jennifer Mandaroux is one. "I can stay maybe one hour at the beach. You have to leave because you can't stay any longer." It's causing many visitors to look elsewhere. "I have to go shopping or do something else."
FWC says low concentrations have been detected in Sarasota and Manatee counties. They are continuing to monitor its movement unsure of its drifting future. "There is a chance the bloom might shift north to Sarasota."
Mote Marine has a beach condition site reported by lifeguards to help you figure out if red tide might be at the beach you're planning to attend.