High concentrations of red tide algae remain present offshore of Sarasota County, FWC reports

From Aug. 4 to Aug. 17, more than 60 tons of marine debris had been removed from county shoreline

A live ‘beach cam’ shows Siesta Public Beach late in the morning of Aug. 19. Image courtesy of Visit Sarasota County

Over the week prior to Aug. 18, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reported, bloom concentrations of the red tide algae, Karenia brevis, were detected in 21 samples from Sarasota County.

A bloom concentration, FWC explains, means that more than 100,000 cells of the algae were found per liter of water in a sample.

In 34 samples taken offshore of Sarasota County, FWC noted, the algae was found in background to high concentrations over the seven days prior to Aug. 18.

No samples collected offshore of Collier County contained Karenia brevis during the same period, FWC pointed out.

In FWC’s previous report — released on Aug. 13 — it noted that bloom concentrations had been found in 26 Sarasota County samples.

This is an aerial view of the shoreline off Venice Pier on Aug. 16. Image courtesy FWC

Sarasota and Pinellas counties had the highest overall levels of red tide among the seven counties that were the focus of the previous seven days’ research as of Aug. 18, FWC said. Background to low concentrations were found in six Manatee County samples, for example.

Additionally, FWC’s Aug. 18 report documented fish kills suspected to be related to red tide in seven counties: Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, Pinellas, Lee, Pasco and Hernando.

The Aug. 13 report cited fish kills in all of those counties except Lee.

On Aug. 19, Sarasota County Media Relations Officer Brianne Grant reported that county Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources staff had evaluated the public beaches and access points that day, “reporting mostly minor to no respiration irritation, and minor to moderate marine debris.” Red Tide beach cleanup operations were planned for Blind Pass Beach that day, she added.

This is an aerial view of the Lido Key shoreline on Aug. 16. Image courtesy FWC

On Aug. 9, red tide cleanup began in the City of Sarasota’s parks and on its rights of way, Jan Thornburg, the city’s senior communications manager, reported.

Additionally, City Engineer Nik Patel pointed out in the news release, “Rather than waiting for a regular weekly pickup, we’re accommodating courtesy collections for residents who are picking up marine debris from their private property.”

He added, “Please make sure you call for the special pickup in advance. To help contain the material and smell, use two bags; then, leave it curbside just prior to the arranged collection day.”

This is the Sarasota County Red Tide Dashboard on Aug. 19. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Residents are asked to contact the city’s Solid Waste Division in advance, for a special courtesy pickup on a Wednesday or Saturday, Thornburg added in the release. “Please call 941-263-6170 to make arrangements,” she wrote.

Workers with Ceres Environmental Services Inc., a debris management company on standby with the city, have been removing dead fish and other red tide debris from the following city parks and rights of way, Thornburg noted:

  • Bayfront Park/O’Leary’s.
  • Bird Key Park.
  • Centennial Park/10th St. Boat Ramp.
  • Ernest “Doc” and Eloise Werlin Park.
  • Hart’s Landing.
  • Indian Beach Park.
  • Ken Thompson Park (boat ramp, fishing piers, playground area).
  • New Pass.
  • Nora Patterson Bay Island Park North Park.
  • Sapphire Shores Park.
  • Tony Saprito Fishing Pier.
  • Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
  • Whitaker Gateway Park.

Crews mostly have been removing the debris by hand along the shoreline and by boat in some waterways, the release pointed out.

On Aug. 19, county Media Relations Officer Grant reported, “In combination with the county’s red tide beach cleaning and operations conducted by the City of Venice and the City of Sarasota,” more than 64 tons of marine debris had been removed from the shoreline since Aug. 4.

These are the Siesta Beach conditions as of approximately 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 19. Information courtesy of Mote Marine via visitbeaches.org
These are the conditions at the Venice North Jetty as of 10 a.m. on Aug. 19. Information courtesy of Mote Marine via visitbeaches.org

For red tide updates in Sarasota County, persons may visit www.scgov.net/redtide.

Mote Marine Laboratory provides a daily beach conditions report and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission posts current statewide red tide status reports.