Conditions have improved on the coast over the past week
The Red Tide Health Advisory that has been in place at all 16 Sarasota County beaches since Dec. 28, 2022 has been lifted, the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County (DOH-Sarasota) announced on the afternoon of March 23.
“The beach advisory signs have been changed at all beaches,” the news release said.
“There are no advisories in place for any beaches in Sarasota County at this time,” it pointed out.
On March 22, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reported in its midweek red tide update that its researchers had detected only nine bloom concentrations of the red tide algae, Karenia brevis, in 72 samples collected along Florida’s Gulf Coast over the previous seven days. A bloom concentration is present when the red tide cells number more than 100,000 per liter of water, FWC explains.
Those latest bloom concentrations were detected in six samples from Pinellas County and three from Manatee County, the agency added on March 22.
Further, over the previous seven days, that update noted, only “very low concentrations” of the red tide algae were found in Sarasota County.
Nonetheless, the agency said that reports of fish kills suspected to be related to red tide had been received over the past week from Sarasota, Manatee, Pinellas, Lee and Collier counties. However, when The Sarasota News Leader checked the FWC Fish Kill Database for the period of March 16 to March 23, it found no reports linked to Sarasota County.
One fish kill was noted in Manatee County, in a Lakewood Ranch pond. That report was filed on March 20, the database said.
Additionally, the Coastal Red Tide Forecast created by FWC and staff of the University of South Florida College of Marine Science for the period of March 22-25 showed no anticipation of problems off the Sarasota County coastline.
In its March 17 red tide update, FWC also reported that it had found no bloom concentrations in samples collected in or offshore of Sarasota County over the prior seven days.
In contrast, it had detected bloom concentrations in 12 samples collected in and offshore of Pinellas County, two in Manatee County and four in Collier County.
That report did add that FWC had noted “background to low concentrations” of red tide in Sarasota County.
On March 21, Sarasota County Media Relations Officer Brianne Lorenz reported via email to members of the news media that county staff that morning had observed continued improvements of the red tide situation countywide.
“As part of regular beach maintenance operations,” she continued, “Sarasota County Parks Recreation and Natural Resources staff perform weekly beach raking at Siesta and Lido beaches throughout the year. On Monday, March 20, routine mechanical beach raking occurred on Siesta Beach and on Tuesday, March 21, routine mechanical beach raking occurred on Lido Beach. Raking will occur Monday, Wednesday, Friday on Siesta and Tuesday and Thursday on Lido.”
She then explained, “This mechanical beach raking is regular beach operations and maintenance. The special beach cleaning policy threshold has not been met, and red tide-related beach cleaning has not begun.”
The county staff has been updating a Red Tide Status webpage over the past several weeks, concurrent with the recent intensification of effects from the bloom that has been offshore. This is the link to that webpage.
DOH-Sarasota also encourages the public to visit its website for updates on water quality at the beaches: www.ourgulfenvironment.net.
Additionally, the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS) produces a red tide forecast: https://habforecast.gcoos.org. That forecast provides details about wind direction at Sarasota County beaches.