Southwest Floridians are holding out hope for this weekends’ events despite an after an increase in red tide levels around Southwest Florida.

This comes just one day after hundreds of dead fish took over canals and marinas in Matlacha. The tide then took it all back out Friday morning.

Samples taken have shown the bacteria, Karenia brevis, persists from southern Pinellas to northern Monroe County, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Results have shown medium to high concentrations in eight samples collected from Charlotte County and background to high concentrations in 16 Lee County samples.

“It’s been a really really nice day. The water’s really nice and calm and tide is just now starting to come in,” said Kathy Cox on Sanibel.

The water was clear at the time of reporting, but red tide still looms in the waters off Lee County.

“Water’s nice and warm. It’s pretty clear but haven’t had a bite,” said fisherman Aiden Flatley, who’s been on the island for a fishing trip. “I’ve been fishing down here for the last six weeks and I’ve noticed in the last week everything just turned off. No bites. No action. No life. Just totally different.”

Flatley and others hope the fish kills don’t pop up further south, but according to FWC’s forecasts, the blooms will eventually creep further down the coast.

Thus far, data out of Collier County shows only low clusters of the bacteria.

Red tide starts at least 10 miles out in the gulf and is moved by winds.

Where there’s red tide, there’s always a possibility for a fish kill. They’ve been reported along Charlotte, Lee, Collier and northern Monroe counties over the past week. Slight respiratory irritation has also been reported in Sarasota and Lee Counties.

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