FORT MYERS BEACH
Experts say all that rainwater is causing the first surge of the season where nutrient-rich fresh water mixes with salt water from the Gulf.
This hunt could cause the next red tide bloom near the mouth of the Caloosahatchee.
The possibility of a red tide is nothing new for Southwest Florida beachgoers.
“You hear people getting sick,” said southwest Florida resident Jon Lough. “Upper respiratory tract and infections and all that, so we’re staying away.”
Experts say recent rainfall helped break up the large bloom, but it could also push levels of toxic algae back up.
“The first harvest of the season is when most of the nutrients will come in,” said John Cassani, Calusa’s water guardian. “So that’s what we’re most worried about now, this increase in nutrients that could amplify the effect of the red tide.”
All of this precipitation also adds to the possibility of increased freshwater discharge from Lake Okeechobee.
Lake Okeechobee levels are rising daily, and the Army Corps may soon have to send more of that water to southwest Florida.
“We just came out of six months of way too dry fresh water, not enough,” Cassani said. “Now we have too much fresh water.”
Cassani also says freshwater from rain upsets the balance of saltwater, which could lead to more fish kills.
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