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Red Tide Impacts SWFL Wildlife, Sea Turtles

How does red tide affect our wildlife? You know, the animals you don’t see washed up on shore.

When you come in contact with red tide, you might experience some respiratory problems like coughing or irritated skin. If you eat contaminated shellfish, you could get food poisoning.

“We see a variety of clinical signs depending on the species of bird or turtle that we see suffering from the toxin. The sea turtles affected by the tide come in with mostly nerve issues. Often times they’re so affected they’re in a comatose state when they come in,” Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife Staff Veterinarian Dr. Robin Bast explained.

CROW has released about 20 turtles back into the ocean this year after treating them for red tide poisoning.

Dr. Bast said they normally don’t have this many turtles come in. She thinks the algae bloom is affecting them more this year because it lasted through the turtles’ mating season.

Ride tide is affecting all animals.

When some birds are exposed to the toxins, they aren’t able to walk straight. Dr. Bast said a lot of people who call in say it looks like the bird is walking around on the beach drunk.

If you see a turtle stuck on the surf or laying on its back, they’re usually in trouble too.

If you see an animal in danger, call CROW or the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“It affects several species including people. So it is something we need to pay attention to,” Dr. Bast added.

Reporting by Jalyn Henderson

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