Citizens silently redeem local beaches, waterways by removing dead fish

July 6, 2018
By Marcy Shortuse

A group of heroic residents stepped up over the weekend to remove the piles of dead fish from island beaches.
A huge “thank you” goes out to Braxton Bowen and his family, and the Combrink family, and many other anonymous helpers, for working in 95-degree weather elbow-deep in dead fish without asking for a single word of thanks.
“My family and I have lived on island full time for years now, and we have seen firsthand the increased effects of red tide on our coastal wildlife. We are on the water almost every day and have to deal with the smell and eye- sore of decaying fish, so we took it upon ourselves to do something about it,” said Clayton Combrink. “In hopes that maybe the little difference that we achieve might influence others to do the same. I treat it the same way as all the litter I pick up from our beaches every week. It just seems like the right thing to do for the beautiful little community we call home.”
Braxton Bowen, a man known for silently doing many good deeds, taught his sons well, too. While he spent time cleaning up the canal off Damficare Street, his sons were busy cleaning up other waterways.
This isn’t the first time any of these folks have done things for the community without regard for thanks. Once people found out what they had done, though, there were many appreciative words. On the Beacon Facebook page people were quoted as saying, “My heartfelt thanks for these selfless, thoughtful, caring neighbors,” and “The Bowen family always goes out of their way to help.”
Lee County Parks and Recreation staff cleaned county beach accesses and provided a receptacle at the west end of 7th Street from Friday, June 29 through July 2 for residents who wanted to dispose of fish carcasses related to the presence of red tide. Plastic bags and gloves were also provided. The intention was to give property owners who chose to remove fish from their private property a place to dispose of them other than with their household waste.