Two algae species discovered in waters where dead fish washed ashore

Video from NBC-2

The ugly looking water that brought dead fish ashore in North Naples this week also had something you need a microscope to see.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission tests on the rust-colored water found two different algae species, a dinoflagellate called Takayama tuberculata and a diatom called hemiaulus.

Neither is known to be toxic, but the algae took enough oxygen out of the water to kill fish, FWC spokeswoman Carli Segelson said Tuesday.

A growing fish kill littered beaches from Doctors Pass to Wiggins Pass on Tuesday as more of Collier County’s shoreline was afflicted with the murky water, including the Naples Pier.

“Even if we had our suits, we wouldn’t want the kids swimming in it,” said tourist Melissa Barr, 41, of St. Louis, looking out at the Gulf from the pier.

Still, plenty of beachgoers were in the water — but some thought twice about it.

“We did go in, but not as far as we would have,” said Lucy DiGiovanni, 62, who once lived blocks from the pier and considers the beach at the pier her favorite.

“I was just totally shocked,” she said of seeing the water Tuesday. “I’m very disappointed.”

The Collier County health department has not closed any beaches or issued any health advisories because of the algae bloom.

In an update Tuesday, the county’s pollution control department urged people to “exercise caution” at the beach. Dying or stressed animals in the surf zone could cause injury if they are stepped on, the update warned.

The bloom is not the same kind of algae that causes Southwest Florida’s notorious red tides, which also kill marine life and cause breathing problems and respiratory irritation in humans.

Beach monitors theorize that the algae bloom started offshore, chasing toward shore a weird mix of marine life rarely seen on the beaches.

The algae were found in six of the 10 water samples sent Monday to the state’s Florida Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg. Four offshore water samples are still to be tested, Segelson said.

The water also is being tested for toxins, and those results could be ready Wednesday, she said.

Scientists also are testing tissues from shark, cowfish and a scorpionfish that were part of the fish kill. Results won’t be ready for weeks, Segelson said.

The scale of the fish kill got bigger Tuesday, with cleanup crews picking up hundreds more fish than they found Monday.

County workers using a tractor to rake the beach picked up some 500 fish from North Naples beaches today compared to about 100 Monday, the county’s Coastal Zone Management Director Gary McAlpin said.

“It’s not a massive fish kill,” he said.

On city beaches south of Clam Pass, a beach cleanup worker picked up another 300 fish compared to a few dozen Monday, the city’s parks superintendent Joe Boscaglia said.

Crews are planning to be back at the beach this morning looking for more dead fish.

Connect with Eric Staats at www.naplesnews.com/staff/eric_staats

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