RED TIDE WASHES UP IN FLORIDA

Red tide conditions have worsened along the Collier County coastline since satellite images indicated an algae bloom offshore earlier this week. Water samples taken Thursday showed red tide at medium levels at Vanderbilt Beach and Barefoot Beach and at very low levels at Seagate and the Naples Pier, according to the Collier County Pollution Control and Prevention Department. Red tide, a bloom of microscopic algae, releases toxins that can cause respiratory irritation in people and kill marine life, littering beaches with smelly piles of dead fish. No fish kills have been reported, and offshore winds this weekend should minimize the red tide’s effects on the beaches. Still, pollution monitors are warning people with emphysema an asthma to avoid the beach because the red tide could aggravate their symptoms. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite imagery indicates an algae bloom, likely red tide, is located 24 miles offshore from the Lee-Collier line south to Cape Romano, south of Marco Island. “It’s a huge area,” Collier pollution monitor Rhonda Watkins said. “They’ve been watching it move south.” More water samples will be taken Monday, and results could be available Tuesday.

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