How Florida Counties Dealt With the Red Tide’s Stinking Mess

The 2018 red tide deposited many tons of dead fish and other marine debris on Florida’s beaches. Local officials had to figure out how to clean it up.

When the red tide started washing dead fish onto Lee County’s beaches in southwest Florida earlier this year, the parks department met the waste like it always has: by having employees scoop it into dumpsters.

But then the toxic algae bloom got worse. The department hired extra day laborers, and when they still couldn’t keep up with the rancid waste on the county’s 50 miles of Gulf Coast shoreline (including Fort Myers and Sanibel beaches), Lee hired a private contractor to help hoist the fish into dumpsters and the county incinerator.

Eventually, the parks department had brought so much of the beach in with the fish, the facility told them to stop—the incinerator could not take any more sand.

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