I haven’t seen it myself yet but I wanted to share this news just in case you are near Bonita Beach and want to see this. I clipped this from the News-Press newspaper (click to go to original story).
BY MARK S. KRZOS • MKRZOS@NEWS-PRESS.COM • OCTOBER 27, 2010
Something in the water?
An unusually low tide?
An algal bloom?
Or something as old as time – the sex drive?
Whatever the reason for their appearance, beach walkers in Bonita Springs were treated to an unusual sight Tuesday as thousands of live and dead fighting conchs lined the shore of Barefoot Beach in north Collier County and Bonita Beach in south Lee County.
“All these years we’ve been here, and we’ve never seen anything like it,” said Chris Rossetti, 81, of Bonita Springs, as she bent down to pick up one of the thrashing mollusks. “There’s so many of them.”
No other area beaches have reported such an invasion, and local scientists aren’t sure what caused the amber-colored conchs to appear in such numbers.
“It could be mating,” said Jose Leal, director of the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum on Sanibel.
Unlike most other mollusks, he said, fighting conchs are intimate during sex. With other mollusks mating is more perfunctory: Females lay eggs and males fertilize them.
Leal added that an extremely low tide two nights ago also could be the cause.
“They’re always out there, and you do see more of them during low tides,” said Steve Boutelle, Lee County’s marine operations manager.
Some people on the beach were trying to throw the live conchs back into the Gulf of Mexico, but the sheer numbers would likely require every resident in the city to lend a hand, said Paul Keene, a Lee County Parks & Recreation maintenance specialist.
It is not illegal to pick up or throw the shells back into the water, but it is illegal to take a live shell from the beach.
Keene said the shells appeared to be in larger groups near the north end of Bonita Beach.
Rick Bartleson, a research scientist with the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, said the conchs could be engaged in a mating ritual or something else that’s pushing them out of the water.
Over the past two weeks, there have been several algal blooms between Fort Myers Beach and Bonita Beach, Bartleson said.
Last week, Fort Myers Beach experienced a die-off of coquinas, which feed on algae. A depletion of oxygen could have been a reason for that die-off, but oxygen levels are back to normal, he said.
Whatever the reason, Jason and Sandy Wolters, vacationing from of Zeeland, Mich., were enjoying the sight.
Jason Wolters said that he has seen the conchs on the beach before – just not this many. He said the conchs are usually swept back out to sea with high tide.
“I haven’t seen anything like it,” said Jason Wolters. “I don’t know why it’s happening.”