See how Southwest Florida’s beaches are recovering



    Show Thumbnails

    Show Captions

    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. 

    As a result of the crisis, Gov. Rick Scott announced the state would give $3 million in grants to assist impacted counties.

    Previous coverage: ‘It’s like a bad nightmare’: Florida water crisis slams wildlife, hurts businesses

    More: Hundreds of sea turtles washing up dead on SWFL beaches

    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

    Sanibel scientist leading the local fight against red tide

    Red tide is clearing — but for how long?

    What travelers should know about Florida’s red tide outbreak

    More on the whale shark death

    Whale shark carcass washes ashore on Sanibel Island beach; FWC biologists to get samples

    Red tide likely killed whale shark that washed up on Sanibel

    More on turtle and fish deaths

    Wildlife clinic confirms turtle rescued by tourist on Sanibel suffers from red tide poisoning

    Dead sea turtle count at 400; Lee County opens fish disposal sites

    Strong red tide may leave lasting impression on turtle populations

    Rescue network saves sick manatees, sea turtles from toxic red tide

    Millions of pounds of dead fish have washed up on our beaches. This is what happens to them next

    News-Press reporter Chad Gillis contributed to this report.


    Read or Share this story: