Red tide takes toll on marine life

Loggerhead hatchling - Cindy Lane | Sun

Dolphins

Red tide is suspected of killing 41 dolphins in August in Southwest Florida, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

It is the first “unusual mortality event” since the 2005-06 red tide killed about 190 dolphins in the region.

In July and August, 49 bottlenose dolphins have stranded in Southwest Florida, 48 of them dead, including one in Anna Maria Island waters, according to NOAA. Of the 10 carcasses necropsied, all had high levels of red tide toxin.

If you find a stranded, dead or sick dolphin, call NOAA’s emergency strandings number at 1-877-WHALE HELP (1-877-942-5343) or contact the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF Channel 16.

Sea turtles

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has documented 287 sea turtle deaths in Gulf of Mexico waters in Southwest Florida coast since the toxic red tide bloom began in October 2017.

135 sea turtles are reported dead in Manatee and Sarasota counties from July 20 through Aug. 31 due to red tide.

A dozen dead sea turtles have been found in Anna Maria Island waters, with two more in rehabilitation, according to Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring Director Suzi Fox.

Manatees

At least 127 manatees have died during the red tide bloom that has plagued Southwest Florida since October 2017, and which reached Anna Maria Island on Aug. 3.

To date, 30 dead manatees tested positive for red tide, and red tide is suspected in 103 manatee deaths, according to the FWC.

Five manatee deaths have been recorded in Manatee County so far this year, none confirmed from red tide.

So far this year, 575 manatees have died in state waters, compared to 538 in all of 2017.