Red tide detected at Siesta and Turtle beaches this week

All county-operated beaches posted with signage warning of the presence of red tide

This is a still that the News Leader created from the live camera view of Siesta Public Beach just before 3 p.m. on Oct. 7. Visit Sarasota County provides the live views via YouTube. Image courtesy Visit Sarasota County

Water samples taken at Sarasota County-operated beaches on Monday, Oct. 3, and then analyzed by Mote Marine Laboratory, show elevated counts of red tide cells at all of the beaches, the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County (DOH-Sarasota), reported late in the morning of Oct. 7.

Therefore, G. Steve Huard, the DOH-Sarasota spokesman, pointed out in a news release that department staff would be changing the signs at Siesta and Turtle beaches to indicate that red tide is present.

Last week, those barrier island beaches were the only ones where red tide was not indicated, Huard reported.

This is a portion of the Turtle Beach report, via Mote Marine, that the News Leader reviewed on Oct. 7. Image courtesy visitbeaches.org

Nonetheless, when The Sarasota News Leader checked Mote Marine Laboratory’s beach conditions reports on Oct. 7, the water color at Turtle Beach was marked as “Clear” shortly after 1 p.m., and no drift algae or dead fish were noted. Likewise, respiratory indication was not a factor.

Shortly after 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 7, the Mote report for Siesta Public Beach cited clear water, no respiratory irritation, no drift algae and no dead fish.

In contrast, at Manasota Key Beach, the Mote report as of 2:13 p.m. on Oct. 7 listed the water color as “Dark,” and it noted “Thick” drift algae, “Intense” respiratory irritation and “Many” dead fish.

Just after 1 p.m. on Oct. 7, the News Leader found the report for Lido Key Beach said that the water color was “Moderate.” Additionally, “Some” drift algae was noted, along with “Slight” respiratory irritation and “Some” dead fish.

“Our weekly sample results are posted at http://www.ourgulfenvironment.net,” Huard wrote in the DOH-Sarasota news release.

As a result of the latest water sampling, the beaches posted with “red tide present” signs are Longboat Key, Bird Key Park, North Lido, Lido Casino, South Lido, Siesta Key, Turtle, Nokomis Beach, North Jetty, Venice Beach, Service Club, Venice Fishing Pier, Brohard, Caspersen, Manasota Key, and Blind Pass, DOH-Sarasota pointed out.

In its Oct. 6 mid-week report on red tide, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) noted that it had found bloom concentrations of the red tide algae, Karenia brevis, in 10 samples from Sarasota County taken over the previous seven days. FWC defines a bloom concentration as the presence of more than 100,000 red tide algae cells per liter of water.

Altogether, FWC wrote on Oct. 6, bloom concentrations were detected in 37 out of 122 samples collected over the past week. The only county with a number exceeding that of Sarasota County was Pinellas, with 14. Three samples from Manatee County showed bloom concentrations, the report said.

Further, FWC pointed out that background to high concentrations of Karenia brevis were found in 27 samples taken in and offshore of Sarasota County over the seven days prior to Oct. 6.

This is a portion of the map that FWC and the University of South Florida released showing their red tide forecast for Southwest Florida for the period of Oct. 6-9. Image courtesy FWC and USF

FWC’s twice weekly updates on red tide for the state may be found at https://myfwc.com/research/redtide/statewide/, including a sampling map that is updated daily.

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

The National Centers for Costal Ocean Science (NCCOS) forecasts for Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in the Gulf of Mexico may be found at https://coastalscience.noaa.gov/research/stressor-impacts-mitigation/hab-forecasts/gulf-of-mexico/.

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