FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP/CBS Tampa) — Hundreds of dead fish have washed ashore in southwest Florida because of red tide.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s red tide hotline, the dead fish were found and reported Wednesday on Bunche Beach in Lee County and elsewhere along the coast.

Water samples from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission show a large patch of red tide south of Sanibel Island. The tide is caused by microscopic phytoplankton that attacks the nerve cells of vertebrate animals.

While the bloom used to be a 30-mile-long patch, it has now broken into millions of smaller pieces stretching from Lee County to Key West.

Wildlife workers collected hundreds of dead fish, eels and stingrays. The hotline warns that the tide could cause respiratory irritation in humans, and expects offshore winds this weekend to lessen its effect on the shoreline.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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