Dozens of shore birds sickened by red tide

The red tide that has been plaguing area beaches for more than a month is now effecting more than just aquatic life. More than 40 shore birds were rescued by Save Our Seabirds on Monday alone. 

"We'll be happy if we see half of them survive honestly," said Jonathan Hande, senior hospital technician at the rescue center. "Although we're not quite as optimistic that's going to happen."

Red tide is known to affect shore birds, but the large number of ill Sanderlings and Ruddy Turnstones that were rescued in just 24 hours has left bird experts shocked.

"This seems almost unprecedented, and it is almost certainly red tide," said Hande.

Symptoms of red tide poisoning are rather easy to detect. The birds become more lethargic and tend to drag their wings. In some cases, experts say the birds don't move at all when someone approaches them.

According to Hande, the birds migrate to Sarasota from the Arctic Circle. They eat species of shellfish that now have high concentrations of the red tide neurotoxin.

Anyone who sees a sick bird is encouraged to call Save Our Seabirds at 941-388-3010.