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Crews again cleaning up Captiva of dead marine life

August 24, 2018
By TIFFANY REPECKI ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

With the changing currents and tides this week, Captiva is experiencing a second wave of fish kills washing ashore on its coastlines, with the Gulf-side seeing a much higher volume than before.

On Aug. 21, the Captiva Erosion Prevention District reported that it reached out to Lee County and contractor CrowderGulf asking once again for assistance in collecting and removing dead marine life. The initial call for help was to address the island's bayside, then conditions on the beaches declined.

Administrator Damon Grant explained that the situation had seemed to be improving.

Article Photos

Fish kills today at the Andy Rosse Lane beach access.

"The beaches last week were looking pretty good," he said on Aug. 23. "Then the currents changed, and we started getting a lot more dead fish deposits not only on the back bay, but on the beach."

CrowderGulf returned to the island on Aug. 21 to again begin cleaning up the bayside. On Aug. 22, officials from the county and the contractor surveyed the conditions on the Gulf-side with Grant.

"We did kind of a review of the island and the beach access points," he said.

The following day, CrowderGulf began working the Gulf-side, too. Today, the county increased the number of workers and equipment tackling the beachside, bringing the total close to 40 people.

In addition, the CEPD has closed Alison Hagerup Beach for the crews to use as a staging area.

"It will probably be for the next several days, unless they get pulled off for a higher priority," Grant said of the cleanup efforts, adding that the county is prioritizing the impacted areas as they are hit.

He noted that the deposits this time are "significant" on the back bay and beaches.

"The back bay is very similar to what we dealt with when CrowderGulf started their back bay efforts (during the first wave)," Grant said. "But I think, on the beach side, this is the worst I've seen it."

On Aug. 15, the contractor had completed a days-long sweep of the bayside from the north end on south to Blind Pass. Officials reported that crews collected over 5,000 pounds on the first day. Around the same time, clean up had resumed on the Gulf-side, which had not seen nearly the same volume.

The CEPD shifted into a monitoring situation afterward, aware of more fish kills just offshore.

"The current dictates what you see," Grant said on Aug. 23.

"We're not in control of it, we're basically reacting at this point," he said.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg and the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota have joined together to monitor harmful algal blooms in coastal waters and disseminate HAB-related information, including red tide.

The information can be found online at or on Facebook via FWC and Mote's combined page called "Florida Red Tide and other Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs)."

A four-yard dumpster remains in the parking lot at Alison Hagerup Beach for the public to dispose of bagged dead fish. A second one will be added at The Green Flash restaurant on a temporary basis.

The CEPD thanked visitors and residents who have been helping to keep the beaches clean.

Those who need to report a large fish kill can contact the CEPD at 239-472-2472.

To report a sick, injured or dead sea turtle, contact the sea turtle hotline for the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation at 978-SAVE-ONE (728-3663).

To report a sick, injured or dead manatee, dolphin or whale, contact FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922. To report a sick, injured or dead sawfish, contact 844-4SAWFISH (472-9347).



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