FRANKLIN COUNTY, Fla. (WCTV) – Residents reported a bad smell and dead fish over the weekend, leading people to suspect that the red tide had spread to parts of the coast of Big Bend.
Red tide is caused by high concentrations of aquatic microorganisms, such as protozoa and single-celled algae. In this case, the FCC believes it is the algae “Karenia brevis”. The phenomenon can be very harmful to sea creatures.
This was evident on Sunday, when hundreds of dead fish were strewn across the sand along the shores of St. George’s Island.
“Very shocking. It’s very shocking to see what’s going on right now,” resident Jayden Eaton said.
Many visitors to Franklin County say they’ve never seen the island’s beaches so littered.
“It was pitiful to see some of the fish, you know some of these sport fish and it was just sad to see them. And you could tell the birds weren’t even eating them,” said visiting angler Kevin Smith .
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s latest map on Thursday showed Franklin County reporting “background levels” of concentration, with much higher levels to the southeast.
According to the Florida Department of Health, red tide can cause irritation to the airways, skin, eyes, or throat.
“We just choked up, started coughing, thought maybe it was just allergies and our eyes got really grainy,” Smith said.
“You cough and sneeze, your throat is a little scratchy and makes you want to cough,” Eaton said.
The health department said such algal blooms can last anywhere from days to months, depending on a number of conditions, including wind and ocean currents.
Despite the phenomenon, many residents are still enjoying the remaining days of this year under the warm skies.
“We love this place, any day at the beach is a good day as far as I’m concerned,” said visitor Robby Waters.
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