The worst red tide to impact Florida since 2007 continues to wreak havoc on our southwest gulf beaches. The bloom started at the end of September and now stretches for 140 miles from Pinellas thru Collier County.
In mid-January, the highest concentrations of toxins from the bloom were found off Sarasota County shores with dead fish washing ashore and respiratory problems for beachgoers. Some beachgoers experienced coughing, sneezing, scratchy throat or teary eyes, effects that are temporary and stop once you leave the beach. Red Tide was reported at Lido Key, Siesta Key, Holmes Beach and as far north as the tip of Anna Maria Island.
Sarasota County workers along with nonviolent offenders enrolled in the Sarasota County sheriff’s offender work program removed dead fish in a clean up effort at county beaches.
Florida red tide blooms are caused by a single cell algae called Karenia brevis. They are naturally occurring at very low levels, usually about 30 miles offshore. Typically during the fall, ocean currents move the red tide to the coast. If the conditions are right, they proliferate into a toxic bloom.
Scientists are still trying to pinpoint just how blooms are triggered, but theorize that it is a combination of changing wind patters pushing red tide closer to shore, nutrient laden runoff fueling the inshore blooms and the red tide algae’s natural growth cycle.
The map was provided by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and shows the period from January 14th to January 25th.