Dead fish are washing ashore on Naples beaches this week as red tide continues to hang on offshore of Collier County, beach monitors reported Wednesday.
Beach patrol officers on all-terrain vehicles are picking up the fish by hand each morning and disposing of them in Dumpsters at Lowdermilk Park and another location that rotates, depending on the location of the fish, Naples Harbormaster Roger Jacobsen said.
"You'll ride along and you're going to see a dead fish here and there," he said. "Last couple days it's a little more and a little more."
Red tide is a bloom of microscopic algae that, at even very low levels, can emit a toxin that kills marine life and causes respiratory irritation in humans.
Water samples collected from the beach Monday and Tuesday found red tide at very low levels at Vanderbilt Beach, low levels at Seagate and medium levels at the Naples Pier, South Marco Beach, Big Marco Pass, Caxambas Pass and the Collier Boulevard boat ramp. More samples will be collected Thursday.
The county is warning people with chronic respiratory illnesses, such as asthma and emphysema, should avoid going to the beach because their condition could be aggravated.
Dead fish have been washing ashore between Clam Pass and Gordon Pass and floating in Naples Bay and in canals on Isles of Capri near Marco Island, the county reported. Respiratory irritation has been reported from those areas in the past five days.
Red tide impacts are worst when winds are blowing onshore. Impacts were expected to be the highest Wednesday, and variable winds are forecast through Saturday.
To report red tide symptoms are dead fish, call 239-252-2502. Red tide updates are available on an automated hotline at 239-252-2591 or by going to www.colliergov.net/redtideupdate.