Audubon staff and volunteers have documented a red tide algal bloom in the immediate proximity of Marco Island, Naples, and Ft. Myers. As of today, they have photographed nine dead sea turtles, as well as numerous bird carcasses, fish kills, and other injured wildlife. Six dead sea turtles were found in one 24 hour period alone. Collier County staff have documented 20 dead sea turtles on the beach since October 4th.
Though the algae that causes red tide is naturally occurring, higher than normal Gulf of Mexico temperatures as well as an influx of nutrients from urban stormwater, agriculture, and septic tanks have caused their intensity and duration to increase, as demonstrated by the year-long outbreak of red tide in 2018.
While it is too early to tell how long this outbreak of red tide will last and how many birds, turtles, dolphins, and fish will be lost this year, Floridians must continue to work together to reduce the nutrients entering our system through stormwater regulation, septic inspections and transition to municipal sewer, as well as implementing agricultural best practices.
Florida wildlife is resilient, but our local species cannot survive year after year of severe toxic algal blooms. Reach out to your elected official today and tell them that water quality should be a pivotal issue in the 2020 Legislative Session.