A few dead fish, a little brown water -- no problem to Naples beachgoers

— It takes more than brown water and dead bait fish to keep beachgoers from the sands of Naples.

On Saturday, a day after a fish kill of small bait fish that numbered in the thousands near the Naples Pier, people were back to beach business as usual.

They swam and sunbathed as if nothing was amiss.

“We’re here from Fort Wayne, Ind., for a girls’ weekend,” Nikki Holt said. “We saw a bunch of little dead fish yesterday, but we couldn’t wait to come back and enjoy the beach today.”

A similar sentiment was echoed by local residents and other visitors, including a family with a small baby, who simply ignored the remaining dead bait fish that peppered the water in some spots and swam around them.

By Saturday afternoon, all along the shoreline people frolicked in the water. Parents coated kids in massive doses of sunscreen and book lovers were under umbrellas, engrossed in a favorite story.

The only indicator that something was muddled was a wide streak of muddy water, and if you looked closely, diminutive bait fish floating in a few areas of the water.

Though beachgoers went about their activities as though everything was normal, in previous days the coastline was anything but.

A non-toxic algae bloom had commandeered a large portion of the Naples coast, prompting the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute to issue a report on Friday.

According to the report, discolored water along much of Naples as well as along the shore of St. Petersburg Beach in Pinellas County was caused by ongoing non-toxic algae blooms identified as Guinardia Flaccida.

The fish died from suffocation as a result of low dissolved oxygen associated with the bloom.

Though it was reported that the algae bloom could be seen as far away as two miles offshore, tides helped cleanse the dead fish away from popular swimming and sunbathing spots to provide for more hospitable waters Saturday.

Jon Steele provides guide services to tourists for Segway Tours of Naples.

Waiting for a tour scheduled to take place later in the day, Steele was one of many people observing the water from the Naples Pier on Saturday.

“You can still see a few fish floating in the water, but people are just overlooking them,” Steele said. “People, especially the locals who come here two or three days a week, are always going to be at the beach.”

Officials agreed that the water quality was greatly improved from Friday’s water conditions.

Richard Tusa of the city of Naples Beach Patrol said the difference between the previous day and Saturday was substantial.

“The water quality is much better today than yesterday (Friday),” Tusa said. “There is still algae in the water but the water is much clearer, and as you can see, it doesn’t seem to affect people who want to spend time at the beach.”

* * * * *

More information on algae and other ocean environmental issues: Go to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute’s Web site at Research.MyFWC.com.

Contact Kelly Merritt at Kelly@Kelly-Merritt.com

© 2009 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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