A red tide bloom that’s lingered off our beaches for more than a year is finally clearing.
If you weren’t around this summer, here’s an update.
In Southwest Florida, red tide counts reached as high as 200 million cells per liter this summer. Beaches were littered with dead marine life, Gulf water was discolored and during a time when many enjoy the summer sun, tourists and residents avoided the coast.
Businesses suffered as the number of disappointed visitors and negative exposure in the national news media heightened. Beach conditions and fish kills left restaurants, hotels and popular fishing guides and charters hurting.
Losses from the bloom in Lee County by 84 businesses totaled nearly $7 million, according to an August report by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
Animals suffered, too. Some of the victims from the crisis included Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles, dolphin, a whale shark, millions of pounds of fish including Goliath grouper, rays, eels and other marine life.
While we experienced a rough year, all hope is not lost for our beaches. Above are images highlighting devastated beaches before red tide cleared, and how the exact same beaches are now recovering and slowly progressing back to their former glory.
Red tide is a harmful algal bloom that can sicken or even kill local wildlife. It also causes respiratory issues in humans and other animals.
More on red tide
More on the whale shark death
More on turtle and fish deaths
News-Press reporter Chad Gillis contributed to this report.
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