Lee County is being struck by two distinctly different, but significant, events – red tide in the Gulf and blue-green algae in the river and canals of the Caloosahatchee River.

This is what Lee County – in conjunction with its cities – is doing to clean up these two events.

August 13, 2018 Update

Links below to learn more about Lee County's immediate actions:

Algae Cleanup Test Project

algae-cleanup.pngGrant Funding of $700,000

Test Cleanup Project Begun

Declared State of Local Emergency

More Information...

Red Tide Beach Cleanup

red-tide.pngTourist Tax Funded

Debris Removal Contractor Hired

Public Dumpster Locations

More Information...

Board actions:

The Board at its regularly scheduled Aug. 7 meeting:
  • Voted unanimously to ask for federal resources. The Board’s resolution urges President Trump to recognize a major disaster exists in Lee County because of the high concentration and prolonged presence of harmful red tide in the Gulf of Mexico and harmful blue-green algal blooms in the Caloosahatchee River and surrounding waters.
  • Heard from mayors and representatives the county’s six municipalities, who adopted their own State of Local Emergency.
  • Extended the existing county State of Local Emergency for blue-green algae and issued a second State of Local Emergency for red tide. 
The Board at its Aug. 21 meeting is anticipated to approve several agenda items that will use Tourist Development Tax reserve funds for beach cleanup and marketing (see below under “Coastal” update). 

Additional updates: 

Tallahassee representatives of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission met with Lee County’s senior leadership team Wednesday to discuss red tide and blue-green algae. 

The Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau participated in a statewide conference call Thursday with Visit Florida, the Florida Department of Health, Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission and MOTE Marine Laboratory and Aquarium regarding the red tide bloom affecting six counties along the Gulf of Mexico. 

  • VISIT FLORIDA is working with county tourism industry partners, state agencies and other stakeholders to mitigate the red tide's effects from a visitor perspective, and will communicate with visitors when the beaches are clear and back to normal. In addition, VISIT FLORIDA presented an action plan to ensure our partners, stakeholders and consumers are armed with updated information as we work together to manage and minimize the impacts of red tide.


What is Blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae, cyanobacteria, is a phylum of bacteria. It can be found in almost every land and water habitat.  It is photosynthetic and blooms are common in waters polluted by nitrogen wastes. It consumes water’s dissolved oxygen that can cause fish and other aquatic organisms to die. It can grow in fresh, brackish or marine water.

Blooms happen when normally-occurring algae grows quickly. It initially causes the water to look cloudy and will start to form foam, scum or mats on the water surface and as the algae dies may cause the water to smell bad. 

These blooms can threaten animals, people and the environment. Animals and humans should avoid contact with bodies of water that have blooms present. Exposure to the blooms can cause runny eyes and nose, sore throat, allergic reactions and swallowing the water can cause a variety of illnesses including gastroenteritis. Humans are less likely to be affected by the bloom as they are put off by the look and smell of the water. Dogs are more likely to be affected by swimming in the water and either drinking directly or licking their fur after being in the water.

What is Florida red tide?

Florida red tide is a common term describing a higher-than-normal concentration of a certain algae type.  Most common to Florida and the Gulf of Mexico is Karenia brevis, K. brevis abbreviated.  There are three components that are needed to form a bloom: biology, chemistry and physical conditions. The organism must be present in the water, have the nutrients to grow and conditions conducive to concentrate and transport K. brevis. 

Higher concentrations of K. brevis can discolor water to a red or brown color but the water could also remain its normal color.

Florida red tide kills fish by producing a toxin called brevetoxin. This toxin affects the central nervous system of fish and can also affect birds, mammals and other marine animals. K. brevis can also affect humans, causing skin irritation and irritation to the respiratory system.


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