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Birds and Sea Turtles in Latest Round of Wildlife Hit by Red Tide

This week, winds shifted from the west to the east, bringing a patch of red tide closer to shore and depositing dead fish and other sea life onto the beaches of Collier and Lee counties. 

Adam DiNuovo is the Collier County Monitoring and Stewardship Program Manager for Audubon of Florida, and he walks the beaches of Marco Island every day monitoring and documenting bird populations.

But what he’s seeing now is the grim result of a Red Tide outbreak off shore- not in the sky, but washing up on the beach.

“We have seen several cormorants in the last three or four days out on the beaches of Marco.  And a few sandwich terns as well,” DiNuovo said.

Among the dead fish being left in the sand by the gulf’s waves, Di Nuovo adds he’s seen several sea turtles.“We documented six turtles in a 24 hour period on October 16th,” Di Nuovo said.

Those six add to the eight sea turtles found by the non-profit Turtle Timein recent days. Eve Haverfield, the director of Turtle Time, tells the News-Press that these eight were found on beaches further north - from Fort Myers Beach to Bonita Springs.Three of them had been hit by boats, but it’s unknown if they were alive or dead when they were hit.

Concentrations of the organism responsible for red tide have been particularly high in Naples and on Marco Island in recent days and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissionofficials advise that concentrations in Charlotte, Lee, and Collier Counties are strong enough to cause respiratory irritation in people.

Copyright 2020 WGCU. To see more, visit WGCU.

One of several Sea Turtles Washed Ashore in Southwest Florida
Audubon Florida / Audubon Florida
One of several Sea Turtles Washed Ashore in Southwest Florida