Elevated levels of red tide detected at five county beaches, including those on Lido, plus Siesta Public Beach

Persons with respiratory problems urged to take precautions

Although the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has continued to report better red tide conditions along the Sarasota County coast over the past couple of weeks, the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County (DOH-Sarasota) notified the public on March 30 that its testing of water samples collected on March 27 had detected elevated levels of red tide at area beaches.

Those beaches are Bird Key/Ringling Causeway, North Lido, Lido Casino, South Lido and Siesta Key.

As a result, DOH-Sarasota changed the signage at those locations to advise the public that red tide once again is present, the department reported.

On Dec. 28, 2022, the department issued an alert about elevated levels of red tide at the beaches on Longboat Key, as well as those at Bird Key/Ringling Causeway, North Lido, South Lido, Siesta Key, Turtle and Nokomis.

The late-December announcement came exactly seven days after DOH-Sarasota had lifted a Red Tide Advisory for all 16 of the county’s beaches. That alert had been in effect since Nov. 1, 2022.

Then, on Feb. 8, the department reported that it had received results of water sampling that week that continued to show red tide present in low to medium levels at all 16 beaches: Longboat Key Beach, Bird Key Park/Ringling Causeway, North Lido Beach, Lido Casino Beach, South Lido Beach, Siesta Key Beach, Turtle Beach, Nokomis Beach, North Jetty Beach, Venice Beach, Service Club Beach, Venice Fishing Pier, Brohard Beach, Casperson Beach, Manasota Key Beach, and Blind Pass Beach.

Subsequently, on March 23, it lifted that advisory.

Regarding exposure to red tide, DOH-Sarasota pointed out in its latest advisory, “Some people may have mild and short-lived respiratory symptoms,” such as eye, nose, and throat irritation — similar to those associated with the common cold or seasonal sinus allergies. “Some individuals with breathing problems, such as asthma, might experience more severe effects,” the department added.

“Usually, symptoms stop when a person leaves the beach or goes indoors,” DOH-Sarasota continued in a news release. “Health officials recommend that people sensitive to red tide or experiencing symptoms avoid the beach or go into an air-conditioned space.”

Then the department advised the public, “If symptoms do not subside, contact your healthcare provider for evaluation.”

FWC’s latest data show improved conditions

In FWC’s midweek update on red tide conditions in Southwest Florida — issued in the afternoon of April 5 — it noted that bloom concentrations of the red tide algae, Karenia brevis, had been detected in 16 samples its researchers had collected over the past seven days from Florida’s Gulf Coast. To qualify as a bloom concentration, a water sample must have more than 100,000 cells of the algae per liter.

That April 5 report noted only one bloom concentration sample collected in Sarasota County over the past week. The largest number was reported in Charlotte County: six, FWC said. Four such samples came from Lee County, two from Manatee County, and one each from Pinellas, Pasco and Collier counties, FWC added.

Further, the April 5 update pointed out that Karenia brevis had been found in background to medium concentrations in and offshore of Sarasota County over the prior seven days. Conversely, background to high concentrations were detected in Charlotte County, FWC said.

When The Sarasota News Leader checked on fish kill reports believed to be related to red tide, it found only one from Sarasota County recorded between March 27 and April 5. That involved Venice Beach, the report said, though the affected species was not identified.

In FWC’s March 29, midweek update, it cited bloom concentrations of red tide in only three samples collected over the previous seven days in Southwest Florida. Two of those came from Manatee County, it noted, with the third from Lee County.

Further, the report said only background to low concentrations of red tide were found in Sarasota County samples.

In the agency’s March 31 update, it reported one bloom concentration sample collected in Sarasota County over the past week. In contrast, seven bloom samples had come from Charlotte County during the same period, FWC said, along with two from Manatee County, three from Lee County and one from Pinellas County.

The March 31 report added that FWC had found background to medium concentrations of red tide in water samples collected in and offshore of Sarasota County over the previous seven days, as well as background to high concentrations in Charlotte County, background to medium concentrations in Manatee County, and background to medium concentrations in Lee County.

Late in the afternoon of April 5, the News Leader checked the red tide status of county beaches as provided by the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS). That map showed very low levels of red tide from the Manatee County beaches south to Englewood, where the designation shifted to “Low.”

Red Tide recommendations from DOH-Sarasota

With their March 30 announcement of a new Red Tide Advisory, health officials in Sarasota County also provided the following recommendations for the public:

  • “Do not swim around dead fish.
  • “If you have chronic respiratory problems, consider staying away from the beach as red tide can affect your breathing.
  • “Do not harvest or eat molluscan shellfish and distressed or dead fish. If fish are healthy, rinse fillets with tap or bottled water and throw out the guts.
  • “Keep pets and livestock away from water, sea foam, and dead sea life.
  • “Residents living in beach areas who experience respiratory symptoms are advised to close windows and run the air conditioner (ensuring that the A/C filter is maintained according to the manufacturer’s specifications).
  • “If outdoors, residents may choose to wear paper filter masks, especially if onshore winds are blowing.

Further, the DOH-Sarasota staff pointed out that the Florida Poison Control Centers have a toll-free, 24/7 hotline for reporting illnesses, including health effects from exposure to red tide: 1-888-222-1222.

DOH-Sarasota posts its weekly water sample results at www.ourgulfenvironment.net, the release also noted.

Further, FWC’s twice-weekly red tide updates may be found at https://myfwc.com/research/redtide/statewide/, including a sampling map that is updated daily, the DOH-Sarasota news release pointed out.

Current beach conditions may be checked at Mote Marine Laboratory’s website, https://visitbeaches.org/.

2 thoughts on “Elevated levels of red tide detected at five county beaches, including those on Lido, plus Siesta Public Beach”

  1. Why does this article and the life guard stand at Lido Beach say red tide is present, but the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission says it isn’t?

    Editor’s Note: We cannot speak to why the FWC is downplaying red tide counts in our area, but the Health Department in Sarasota does ongoing testing, and those test results show elevated levels (as explained in our article).

    Red tide is not a static situation anywhere on the west coast, which is why we promptly report when the DOH-Sarasota notifies us that red tide levels are elevated, and when they abate.

    • It may have something to do with seasonal tourist attendance.
      Come May 1st, It won’t be as pertinent to out-of-state tourists.
      I suspect red tide will worsen in coming weeks as the Gulf of Mexico water temperature continues to rise above normal levels.

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