COLLIER COUNTY — The red tide tickle will go away soon.
Throat irritation and coughing that some beachgoers have experienced in recent days due to winds carrying the toxin ashore should see their symptoms disappear when winds move offshore today.
That's what Collier County pollution control officials expect as medium to high levels of red tide linger 10 to 20 miles offshore.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission considers the current episode of red tide the most significant since June 2006.
The bloom's irritability level for beachgoers is tied to wind direction, concentration level of the algae and if the toxin gets mixed up with sea spray and breathed in by humans.
Wednesday's beach condition was an improvement over the day before, several regular beachgoers said.
"It was a little better," said Consiglio Vinciguerra, a 68-year-old part-time resident from Port Jefferson, New York.
He was soaking up the sun Wednesday with friends at Vanderbilt Beach.
"(Tuesday) was a little bad. Everybody was coughing," he said.
The Collier County Health Department advises people with chronic respiratory problems, namely asthma or emphysema, to avoid the beach because the toxin can aggravate their conditions. Others who experience watery eyes and throat irritation should get inside.
"Getting in the air conditioning usually clears up the symptoms," health department spokeswoman Deb Millsap said.
Some dead fish have been washing on shore as far north as Barefoot Beach and quickly get swept up by the county's beach clean-up tractors in the early morning so the stink and unsightliness is gone before people arrive.
"Everybody thinks they smell red tide but it's the dead fish," said Tim Bowers, 21, who's been manning Cabana Dan's at Vanderbilt Beach since he was a teenager.
Johnny Windsor works at Vanderbilt Beach Water Sports and saw a couple of large dead grouper getting hauled away when he arrived at his job Wednesday.
"It was pretty bad," he said.
NOAA satellite imagery showed the bloom boundary is 30 miles from the coastline, extending from southern Lee County south to Marco Island.
The county's latest water samples taken earlier this week showed high red tide levels 18 miles west miles of Naples Park and about 10 miles west of Venetian Bay. The Naples Pier and the Goodland Bridge have the lowest concentration of red tide while Marco Island is experiencing medium levels of bloom.
Hilda McDonnell, 66, a visitor from Long Beach, Long Island, wasn't letting a little red tide stop her from soaking up the sun at Vanderbilt Beach.
"I could just feel it and I was coughing a little bit more," she said.
Her friend, Flo Donohue, a seasoned winter resident, dismissed the concern all together.
"We've had other years much worse," she said.