150 sea turtles killed by red tide so far this year, FWC says

If you don't feel it in the air, signs on Manasota Beach warn of red tide.

Morning turtle walks show positive signs of Loggerheads and Green turtles.

But the Coastal Wildlife Club has also documented the devastation of red tide.

"It's hard to see. We don’t like to see any of the dead stuff. It’s unpleasant," said Zoe Bass, a volunteer with Coastal Wildlife Club.

"Recently we’ve been starting to see juvenile sea turtles washing in dead," Bass said. "A majority are the Kemp's Ridley."

Kemp's Ridley are considered the rarest of the turtles.

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Across other Sarasota County beaches, it's a similar situation.

"In Sarasota right now it’s definitely well above average," said Dr. Allen Foley, a research scientist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

According to FWC, 71 turtles have been stranded in 6 weeks, and many have died. Foley said the cause is red tide.

"They're eating seafood that, if we were in charge of them, we would say, 'Don’t eat that,'" Foley said.

FWC said back in 2018, they documented well over 500 turtles killed by red tide. With this bloom, they're around 150 so far.

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"Sea turtle populations have declined over a long period of time and that’s why we are worried about them, and they are either listed as endangered or threatened," Foley said.

While we can work to stop excess nutrients from feeding red tide, Foley said there's not much more that can be done. For now, it's wait and see.

"To me, it feels somewhat unpredictable. I know they’re able to monitor currents, conditions and have a better idea how long this red tide will last," Foley said. "That’s kind of a key -- will it dissipate in the next couple of weeks or will it still be around?"

If you find a dead, sick, or injured sea turtle, you're asked to call FWC's 24-hour Wildlife Alert Number at 1-888-404-FWCC.