In early October, State and local officials identified a large patch of red tide that appeared to stretch from inshore southern Sarasota County to offshore Collier County, centered off Charlotte Harbor and stretching southeast toward Collier. It has now extended from Collier through Sarasota County with patches in Manatee and Pinellas County.
The bloom is deadly for fish, marine mammals, sea turtles and other sea life. Dead fish have been washing up on beaches in Charlotte and Sarasota County beaches. There have been reports of respiratory irritation on the coast which can be caused by red tide. People with chronic conditions such as asthma and emphysema are particularly susceptible.
Scientists are still trying to pinpoint just how blooms are triggered but theorize that it is a combination of changing wind patterns pushing red tide closer to shore, nutrient laden runoff fueling the inshore blooms and the red tide algae’s natural growth cycle.