Dead fish have washed ashore on North Naples beaches as a red tide continues to hang on offshore of Southwest Florida, Collier County beach monitors reported Wednesday.
Red tide is a bloom of microscopic algae that releases a toxin that can kill marine life and cause respiratory irritation in humans, including as recently as early last week. The county is warning people with emphysema and asthma to avoid the beaches.
One beachgoer estimated that Barefoot Beach was littered with one dead fish every five feet for a mile, and 20 fish were reported on Vanderbilt Beach north to Wiggins Pass, county pollution control worker Rhonda Watkins said.
Watkins said the county's regular beach rake routine picked up the Vanderbilt Beach fish, but beach raking is not allowed on Barefoot Beach, which is within a preserve area.
Satellites are tracking patches of elevated to high chlorophyll levels stretching offshore from southern Pinellas to Collier counties. More water samples are scheduled to be taken from the beaches Thursday.
Water samples collected earlier this week showed red tide at very low levels at Vanderbilt Beach and Seagate and at low levels at the Naples Pier and South Marco Beach.
To report dead fish or red tide symptoms, call 239-252-2502. Red tide updates are available by calling the county's hotline at 239-252-2591.