Heading to Florida Gulf Coast beaches for some R&R? There’s a change in red tide levels
Red tide conditions around much of Southwest Florida have improved after weeks of severe conditions, according to the most recent water samples from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Sarasota County’s coastline saw the biggest drop in red tide levels in the region.
The organism that causes red tide, Karenia brevis, was detected at very low levels in two water samples and one low level sample in Sarasota Bay. Seventeen other samples along the coast found that K. brevis was not present or at background levels.
Conditions also improved around Manatee County and Anna Maria Island’s coastline.
Red tide algae were detected at medium levels in two samples off of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Elsewhere, very low and low levels were observed. Samples taken also showed red tide was not present in other areas of Manatee County’s gulf waters.
The bloom remained the strongest around Pinellas County, where low to medium levels were found from Anclote Key near Tarpon Springs south to Mullet Key and Shell Key, near Passe-A-Grille. One high level concentration was found at Largo Intercoastal Marina in the central part of the county.
Respiratory irritation and fish kills were reported from Pasco, Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota, Lee and Collier counties.
But the rate of dead fish washing ashore appeared to slow this week, according to anecdotal reports.
Even as the red tide bloom remains patchy, it is far-reaching. This week, K. brevis was detected at low levels in the Florida Keys.
Red tide forecast
The reprieve from red tide could be short-lived for Manatee and Sarasota counties, according to the most recent forecast from University of South Florida’s Ocean Circulation Lab.
The forecast predicts that ocean currents could push medium levels of K. brevis back to shore around parts of Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key and other Sarasota County beaches.
An area of high intensity is predicted for Collier County’s coast.
NOAA warns of a moderate risk of respiratory irritation over the next 36 hours in Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota, Lee and Collier, and possible respiratory irritation in Pasco, Charlotte and Monroe. Chances increase when wind is blowing on or along the shore.