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Family Walking On the Beach


Red Drift Algae is a species of algae that can be seen with the naked eye and resembles seaweed. These algae are not harmful and are non-toxic, but when they wash up on beaches can smell bad as they decompose. These species, which vary in color and can be red, brown, green or white, occur naturally in the environment and can sometimes detach from the bottom and wash up along area beaches. 



To see specific beach condition reports, click here.

You may also go to or call 941-BEACHES (232-2437) for more information.


In Florida, red tide is a naturally occurring microscopic algae called Karenia brevis or K. brevisthat is present in background conditions throughout the year in the Gulf of Mexico. It occurs in salt water and when natural conditions are right, the organism can form blooms off the coast producing a toxin that can affect the central nervous systems of fish and wildlife. At high concentrations, the blooms may discolor the water – sometimes red, light or dark green, brown or clear.

How long will it last?

Red tide blooms can last days, weeks or months and can also change daily due to wind conditions. Onshore winds normally bring it near the shore and offshore winds drive it out to sea. 

Can people swim in red tide?
Most people can swim in red tide, but it can cause skin irritation and burning eyes. If you experience irritation, get out and thoroughly wash off with fresh water.

What are symptoms from breathing in red tide toxins?
For most people, coughing, sneezing and teary eyes are temporary symptoms. People with chronic respiratory problems, like asthma and COPD should avoid red tide areas.

Can pets swim in red tide?
If your pet swims in a red tide patch at the beach, a thorough freshwater rinse as soon as possible is essential. Don’t let your pet play in any sea foam – the foam has been shown to be more toxic than water.

SW Florida Beaches & Water Quality 


Please see the live beach cams below that offer visitors a real-time view of our destination complimentary local businesses.

Boca Grande Pass, Boca Grande

Island Inn, Sanibel Island

Sanibel Moorings Resort, Sanibel Island

West Wind Inn, Sanibel Island

The Mucky Duck, Captiva Island

'Tween Waters Inn, Captiva Island

Best Western Plus Beach Resort, Fort Myers Beach

Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina, Fort Myers Beach


Florida Healthy Beaches Program (Florida Department of Health)

Current Beach Conditions (MOTE Marine Laboratory)

The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commissions (FWC)

Lee County's Water Quality Status

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF)

To see specific beach condition reports, click here.


If you're seeing dark-colored water offshore...
Water runoff from the river watershed and freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee may cause some discoloration of the water from the north end of Fort Myers Beach to the south end of Sanibel Island. This freshwater contains tannins from plants and other organic material that give the water a darker color than it normally appears.

Why is this water being released?
Above-average rainfall creates conditions within Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee River watersheds that results in large volumes of freshwater being discharged into the river and estuary.

How long will it last?
Freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee stop once water levels return to normal. For more information, please visit the South Florida Water Management District.

Meditation by the Sea
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