The Yahoo News , 04 August 2006

Red tide moving up Florida's west coast

ENGLEWOOD, Fla. - A persistent red tide bloom that has been killing fish off Fort Myers since July has spread north to Charlotte and Sarasota counties, officials said.

Swaths of dead fish stretched along the high-tide line on some beaches in those counties Thursday as officials issued advisories warning of red tide's first major return to the area this year.

Water samples taken earlier this week showed concentrations of the microscopic algae high enough to kill fish and cause breathing problems in people at many beaches.

Red tide is notorious for ruining beach days, not only because it litters shorelines with rotting sea life, but because it also makes even healthy people cough.

Last year's red tide outbreak killed tons of fish and marine mammals, which then decayed and created oxygen-starved dead zones off the beaches of Florida's west coast.

Cindy Heil, red tide scientist with the state's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, said experts can't say how long the current bloom will last, where it will go or whether it will get worse.