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Jim Kostka, who owns a home at the end of 106th Avenue near Vanderbilt Drive in North Naples, began noticing dead fish accumulating in the canals near his house in early April.  

“It has just gradually become more widespread,” Kostka said. “It seems all the dead fish kind of gather up at the end of the canals. The problem with that is then the stench is just terrible. You can walk down Vanderbilt (Drive) and it just reeks."  

Even as the problem grew worse last week, Collier County crews did not clean up the mess, waiting instead for a state grant to pay for the job.

The work is set to get started Monday with a $190,000 grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, county spokeswoman Connie Deane said Friday.

  

The issue of dead fish piling up in canals has not been isolated to the area close to Kostka’s home in North Naples.  

There is a “smattering” of dead fish piling up in canals and inland waterways throughout the north end of the county that will get cleaned up with the state grant, Deane said.

Some areas of the county already have gotten some relief from the problem. Red tide, which is responsible for the fish kill, has abated in some areas and winds have become favorable, Deane said.    

Currently, there is no layer of dead fish in the canals or noticeable stench from the fish in his neighborhood, Kostka said, but he has been concerned about who would clean up the dead fish as red tide continues to linger around Southwest Florida.    

"The red tide is a huge issue, but let's at least control what we can control,” Kostka said. “Cleaning the fish up is something that can be done." 

More: Third species of algae, fueled by decomposing fish, is found blooming in Southwest Florida waters

More: Florida algae crisis: Sanibel clinic aids sea turtles ill from red tide

For many residents, with homes on side streets along Vanderbilt Drive between 111th Avenue and Vanderbilt Beach Road, dead fish piling up in the canals has been a stinky problem for months.  

Glen Collier, who has lived in his house on Palm Court in North Naples for 24 years, said it has been at least 10 years since he has seen red tide and dead fish problems in the canals this prominent.  

Just last week, Collier could stand on his front porch, look across the street between his neighbors’ homes and see a layer of dead fish floating on top of the water in the canal by his home.  

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Red tide is a harmful algal blooms that can sicken or even kill local wildlife. It also causes respiratory issues in humans and other animals. Wochit

The dead fish also have invaded canal waters behind Collier’s pool in his backyard.  

"There was a lot of dead fish out here last week and the red tide really bothers me,” Collier said. “I just won't come out much until the red tide and dead fish are all gone."  

Because of the red tide, Collier said he gets watery eyes and an itchy throat if he is outside near his home for too long.  

A red tide bloom has lingered along the Southwest Florida coast since October, at times stretching from Tampa Bay to the Florida Keys and has caused fish kills in Collier Countykilled sea turtles and affected local fishing captains and restaurants negatively. 

Red tide blooms are typically broken up by cold weather systems that reach Florida during the winter months. That means this bloom could be here well into 2019, causing more dead fish to pile up in the canals. 

The organism (Karenia brevis) that causes red tide occurs naturally. However, many water quality scientists say the blooms last longer and are more intense due to human activities such as farming and development. 

For Kostka, help cleaning up the stinky fish can’t come soon enough.   

"The real side effect is it is just killing real estate in the area,” Kostka said. “I've got some neighbors trying to sell and they can't even get anyone to look at their house. If you get someone to look at it, then they step outside and it smells like dead fish. It's terrible." 

 

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