Current Beach Conditions
All public beaches located within Fort Myers & Sanibel (Lee County) are currently open. Get a live view from our shores with our beach cams.
Within Lee County, some beaches are owned and managed by municipalities and the state. We encourage visitors to visit the following websites for other beach updates:
Red Tide Update
Current reports indicate there are no red tide conditions in any areas of Lee County. According to the Florida Department of Health, there are no beach closures at this time.
The most recent Red Tide Report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission can be seen here.
The Red Tide Respiratory Forecast Tool from the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS) can be seen here.
See a map from Mote Marine Laboratory with current beach conditions here.
See a map where water quality samples were taken by clicking here. TIP: Click on a specific point on the map to see date the sample was taken. We encourage all beach goers review this daily sampling map prior to visiting their preferred beach park facility.
Learn More About Red Tide:
What is Red Tide?
The Florida Red Tide is caused by Karenia brevis, an organism that you can only see with a microscope. It’s always present in the Gulf of Mexico in small amounts, but when it “blooms” and occurs in larger amounts, it sometimes discolors the waters, giving them a reddish or brownish appearance, hence the name “red tide.”
When blooms occur, their toxins can kill fish and other marine animals. When their toxins become airborne, they can also have respiratory affects on people at beaches.
Is it safe to swim during a red tide?
Yes, for most people. However, for some people red tide can cause skin irritation and burning eyes. If you are particularly susceptible to irritation from plant products, avoid red tide waters. If you experience irritation, get out and thoroughly wash off. In addition do not swim around dead fish.
What are the symptoms - How does Red Tide affect people?
People can experience respiratory irritation (coughing, sneezing and tearing) when red tide is present. People with severe or chronic respiratory conditions (such as bronchitis, emphysema or asthma) are cautioned to avoid red tide areas.
Some people may have mild and short-lived respiratory symptoms such as eye, nose and throat irritation similar to cold symptoms. Some individuals with breathing problems such as asthma might experience more severe symptoms. Usually symptoms go away when a person leaves the area or goes indoors. Health officials recommend that people experiencing these symptoms stay away from beach areas or go into an air-conditioned space. If symptoms do not subside, please contact your health care provider for evaluation.
Generally, symptoms are temporary and disappear within hours (once exposure is discontinued).
Red Drift Algae
Commonly confused with Red Tide, Red Drift Algae is harmless and is very similar to a colored seaweed that washes up on our shore. Learn more:
What is it?
Red Drift Algae is a species of algae that can be seen with the naked eye and resembles red seaweed. This algae is not harmful and non-toxic. These species, which vary in color and can be red, brown, green or white, occur naturally in the environment and can sometimes detach from the bottom of the sea floor and wash up along area beaches. It can have an unpleasant smell as it dries out on the sand.
Where is it?
It is most notably seen washed up on area beaches in the wrack line. “Wrack” is the term for seaweed, sea grass, driftwood, and other organic materials that wash ashore on the beach. At certain times of the year we may have an abundance of red drift on our beaches while at other times we may have little to none.
Why is it important to our ecosystem?
Many of our local and migratory shorebirds feast on invertebrates and small crustaceans in the abundant wrack on our beaches, including the red drift algae. This organic matter is essential to the beach ecosystem. It is for this very reason why our beaches are not regularly groomed. While it may be unsightly for beachgoers, it is a vital part of our natural ecosystem.
Appearance of the Water
If you're seeing dark-colored water offshore...
Water runoff from the river watershed and freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee may cause some discoloration of the water from the north end of Fort Myers Beach to the south end of Sanibel Island. This freshwater contains tannins from plants and other organic material that give the water a darker color than it normally appears.
Why is this water being released?
Above-average rainfall creates conditions within Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee River watersheds that results in large volumes of freshwater being discharged into the river and estuary.
How long will it last?
Freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee stop once water levels return to normal. For more information, please visit the South Florida Water Management District.
Additional Resources - Beach Conditions & Water Quality
Florida Healthy Beaches Program (Florida Department of Health) - Map with beach samples & advisory status
Current Beach Conditions (MOTE Marine Laboratory) - Map with beach conditions from select beaches in Southwest Florida
Red Tide Current Sampling Map - Updated bi-weekly by The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commissions (FWC)
Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF)- A local foundation dedicated to the conservation of coastal habitats and aquatic resources on Sanibel and Captiva islands and in the surrounding watershed.
Algal Bloom Sampling Status - Interactive dashboard allows public to see where algal blooms were occurring in Florida. It features real-time updates, photos and information. Users can search by specific address, ZIP code, city or place. The tool includes quick links to other resources such as public health information.
Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS) - This is an experimental forecast of potential respiratory irritation that may occur because of airborne toxins produced by the red tide organism Karenia brevis. It indicates a greater or lesser likelihood of negative conditions based on predicted wind and ocean currents. Please NOTE: This experimental forecast is currently being tested for efficacy and is not yet an official forecast. Daily availability of the product cannot be assured.