Stay in the know about wildlife, water quality, and ecosystems on Sanibel and Captiva Islands and in Southwest Florida

Red Tide Continues to Impact Wildlife

May 24, 2021
The red tide organism, Karenia brevis, persists in Southwest Florida, where it was detected in 54 samples over the past week. , Medium to high bloom concentrations (>100,000 cells/liter) were observed in eight samples from Lee County and seven samples from Collier County by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
Today’s mid-week update from the FWC stated that “K. brevis was observed at very low concentrations in Pinellas County (in one sample), background to low concentrations in Manatee County (in 11 samples), background to low concentrations in Sarasota County (in 12 samples), background to high concentrations in and offshore of Lee County (in 19 samples), very low to high concentrations in and offshore of Collier County (in eight samples), and background to low concentrations offshore of Monroe County (in three samples). Samples from Hillsborough and Charlotte counties did not contain red tide.”
As the FWC reports background to high concentrations inshore and offshore of Lee County, the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) reports admitting nine red tide patients in the past week.
Among the patients that died: an anhinga (Anhinga anhinga), Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), sanderling (Calidris alba), and two laughing gulls (Leucophaeus atricilla). Two laughing gulls remain at CROW along with a double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auratus), while a ruddy turnstone (Arenaria interpres) brought in by SCCF was successfully released.
These CROW admission numbers are lower than in recent weeks, likely due to shorebirds’ migration north and tidal conditions. “The tide pools and wet areas on the East End have dried up this week, so I am seeing fewer shorebirds in general as there is less foraging habitat and they are migrating north by now,” explained SCCF Shorebird Biologist Audrey Albrecht.
If you see a distressed shorebird, contact or a sea turtle you believe is struggling, call our sea turtle hotline: (978) 728-3663.
You can track the red tide bloom that has been lingering in Southwest Florida waters since November 2020 and access a link to a Red Tide Respiratory Irritation Forecast Map that is continually updated on SCCF’s Red Tide Resources page.
Click the button below to learn more about red tide and how to track it.


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