Before and after images show devastation, recovery from red tide on Southwest Florida beaches

A red tide bloom that’s lingered off our beaches for more than a year is finally clearing.

If you weren’t around this summer, here’s an update. 

In Southwest Florida, red tide counts reached as high as 200 million cells per liter this summer. Beaches were littered with dead marine life, Gulf water was discolored and during a time when many enjoy the summer sun, tourists and residents avoided the coast. 

Businesses suffered as the number of disappointed visitors and negative exposure in the national news media heightened. Beach conditions and fish kills left restaurants, hotels and popular fishing guides and charters hurting.

Losses from the bloom in Lee County by 84 businesses totaled nearly $7 million, according to an August report by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. 

As a result of the crisis, Gov. Rick Scott announced the state would give $3 million in grants to assist impacted counties.

Previous coverage: ‘It’s like a bad nightmare’: Florida water crisis slams wildlife, hurts businesses

Animals suffered, too. Some of the victims from the crisis included Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles, dolphin, a whale shark, millions of pounds of fish including Goliath grouper, rays, eels and other marine life.

While we experienced a rough year, all hope is not lost for our beaches. Above are images highlighting devastated beaches before red tide cleared, and how the exact same beaches are now recovering and slowly progressing back to their former glory. 

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