Dead fish floating in Matanzas Pass and Hurricane Pass off of Fort Myers Beach, dolphins seen nearby.
Andrew West, News-Press
Gov. Rick Scott on Monday declared a state of emergency for seven Florida counties, including Lee, Collier and Charlotte, due to the impact of red tide.
The declaration will provide funding and resources for Sarasota, Pinellas, Hillsborough and Manatee, as well.
A strong red tide has lingered along the Southwest Florida coast since October, at times stretching from Tampa Bay to the Florida Keys. It has killed manatees, hundreds of sea turtles and an untold amount of fish measured in the millions of pounds.
Lee County will receive $900,000 in grants for cleanup, bringing total red tide grant funding for Lee County to more than $1.3 million.
Mote Marine Laboratory will receive $100,000 to help with animal rescues and VISIT FLORIDA will receive $500,000 to create an emergency grant program to help communities promote tourism.
Biologists and scientists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also will be available to assist in cleanup and animal rescue efforts, according to a news release by the governor’s office.
The red tide declaration comes a month after Scott declared a state of emergency for Lee, Hendry, Glades, Martin, Okeechobee, St. Lucie and Palm Beach counties due to blue-green algae outbreaks caused by Lake Okeechobee water discharges.
The lingering red tide outbreak has caused the death of thousands of fish along Lee County shores. County workers and contractors this month have pulled more than 2.7 million pounds of dead fish and sea creatures from local beaches.
That’s nearly as much stone crab as was collected across the state in 2015, according to Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Areas cleaned up include Boca Grande, Sanibel Causeway islands, Fort Myers Beach, Bonita Beach county parks, Captiva, Upper Captiva and St. James City, according to Lee County records.
The numbers do not include Sanibel or Fort Myers Beach and parts of Captiva.
About 535,000 pounds of fish have been collected on Sanibel through Aug. 8, according to the city manager’s office.
Hundreds of sea turtles, manatees and dolphins and a whale shark have been recovered in Lee since June.
Connect with this reporter: Chad Gillis on Twitter.
Staff writer Sheldon Zoldan contributed to this report.
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