Red Tide Alert lifted at beaches

Health officials find no red tide cells present on Oct. 26

Just before 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26, the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County (DOH-Sarasota) lifted the Red Tide Alert it issued on Wednesday, Oct. 19.

That advisory was in place at Turtle Beach, Nokomis Beach, North Jetty Beach, Venice Beach, Service Club Park, Venice Fishing Pier, Brohard Beach and Caspersen Beach.

“The beach advisory signs have been changed at all beaches at this time with the exception of North Jetty, due to a temporary road closure associated with hurricane Ian clean-up,” DOH-Sarasota’s Oct. 26 news release said. “The signs will be changed as soon as possible once the area is accessible.”

DOH-Sarasota officials “received testing results [on Oct. 26] that showed zero cells for red tide were present,” the release pointed out.

“There are no advisories in place for any beaches in Sarasota County at this time,” it added.

As The Sarasota News Leader reported last week, David Tomasko, executive director of the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP), had warned of the potential of a red tide event in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian’s strike on Southwest Florida.

“[T]his storm has loaded nutrients out into the Gulf of Mexico in such a manner that we may be in the early stages of a massive algal bloom in the Gulf of Mexico, due to the combination of rainfall, all the wastewater overflows we’ve had (more than 18 million gallons in our two counties) and the urbanized nature of runoff that is generated in our watersheds,” he wrote, referring to Sarasota and Manatee counties.)

Tomasko added, “What helps is that the water cooled dramatically after the passage of Ian. However, Ian also caused an upwelling of deeper water that has a natural nutrient content higher than most surface waters. Those will likely offset each other to some degree, with the extent of any possible future algal bloom in the balance.”

On Oct. 21, in its weekly red tide update, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reported that the red tide algae, Karenia brevis, had been observed in 25 samples over that week, “with bloom concentrations [greater than 100,000 cells per liter] present in four samples from Sarasota County.

FWC added in that update that Karenia brevis also was observed at background concentrations offshore of Manatee County, “background to high concentrations in and offshore of Sarasota County, very low concentrations in Charlotte County, and background concentrations offshore of Lee County.”

The agency did note that it had received no reports that week of fish kills believed to be related to red tide. However, FWC did report respiratory irritation in Sarasota County that it suspected was related to red tide.

In an Oct. 21 news release, FWC wrote that it was “closely monitoring Southwest Florida,” since Karenia brevis was detected in multiple samples in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, and Lee counties that week. “Red tide is a naturally occurring microscopic alga that has been documented along Florida’s Gulf Coast since the 1840s and occurs nearly every year,” FWC explained.

As part of the work of the FWC Center for Red Tide Research, that news release continued, the University of South Florida (USF) College of Marine Science and Mote Marine Laboratory of Sarasota each “deployed a glider equipped with sensors to better understand conditions offshore. The information collected will help direct future sampling and forecasting efforts.”

Further, the release pointed out, thanks to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ leadership, “[I]ncreased funding has been provided to enhance monitoring capabilities in offshore areas for signs of red tide in real-time.”

In the state’s Fiscal Year 2022-23 budget, the release added, “$4.8 million was invested for the Center for Red Tide Research at the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI). The center was created at the request of the Governor in 2019 to improve statewide red tide monitoring techniques and conduct research to better track, predict, and mitigate the effects of red tide on Florida communities. The Center for Red Tide Research brings together state and local governments, universities, private sector partners, and citizen scientists to enhance statewide red tide monitoring and conduct applied research on red tide.”

The FWC recently created an animated video to help answer common red tide questions, the release noted. “This video is intended for residents and visitors and covers three main topics: what is red tideis red tide dangerous to humans; and how do we track red tide. Available as a single video or as three shorter standalone videos focused on each topic, these easy-to-access resources can be readily shared to help provide important background leading up to and during red tide events.”

For more information regarding red tide, visit

DOH-Sarasota staff reminds the public that the following resources are available to check beach conditions: