Red tide no longer a problem on county beaches

Latest FWC sampling shows no more than ‘background to low’ concentrations

This is the sign standing at county-operated beaches since red tide has dissipated. Image courtesy Sarasota County via Facebook

On Sept. 9, Sarasota County staff reported that the beach conditions signs on all 16 beaches in Sarasota County were changed to “Enjoy the Beach” from “Red Tide Present.”

“This comes after all beach water samples taken Tuesday, Sept. 7,” by the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota came back showing zero cells of Karenia brevis present, staff noted in a Facebook post.

By July 13, with increasing signs of the presence of red tide — including respiratory irritation and dead fish — the warning signs had been posted at all the county-operated beaches.

On Sept. 9, when county Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources (PRNR) staff members evaluated the beaches and beach accesses that morning, they found “mostly no debris or respiratory irritation,” county Media Relations Officer Sara Nealeigh notified the news media.

Additionally, in a Sept. 10 video posted on a county Facebook page, Jonathan Poyner, beach coordinator for PRNR, pointed out that red tide no longer was being detected on the county shoreline.

“Since Aug. 1,” he said, “we removed 73 tons of marine debris from the effects of red tide.”

The public is welcome to continue visiting the county’s Red Tide Dashboard, Nealeigh noted in her advisory.

When The Sarasota News Leader checked that dashboard during the evening of Sept. 15, it found no problems indicated. However, the dashboard noted that “if impacts from Red Tide return, these daily reports will resume.”

On Sept. 10, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reported that no red tide bloom concentrations — more than 100,000 cells of the algae Karenia brevis per liter — had been detected in Sarasota County water samples over the previous seven days.

Such concentrations were found in four Charlotte County samples, the report noted, and three taken “in and offshore of Lee County.”

As of that date, FWC said, Karenia brevis had been observed only in background concentrations in Sarasota County over the previous week. FWC did add that it had received reports of respiratory linked to red tide in the county during the preceding seven days.

On Sept. 15, in its mid-week update, FWC again had found no bloom concentrations in samples from Sarasota County over the previous week, it pointed out. However, it said that “background to low concentrations” were found in 11 Sarasota County samples taken over the previous seven days. FWC also reported once again that it suspected red tide to be linked to respiratory irritation that had been noted in the county.

This is the joint FWC/University of South Florida red tide forecast for Southwest Florida for Sept. 15-18. Image courtesy FWC and USF

FWC continues to point out that anyone interested in current information about conditions on individual beaches should visit https://visitbeaches.org. The reports offered on that website are provided by Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota and “citizen scientists” who volunteer to collect data.

These are details in the afternoon report on Sept. 15 regarding Venice’s North Jetty Beach. Image courtesy Mote Marine Laboratory

When the News Leader checked the conditions at Siesta Beach just before 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 15, it found that the water was classified as “Clear,” with no reports of respiratory irritation, dead fish, drift algae or beach debris.

For crowds, Mote used its “Many” icon.

At the Venice North Jetty in Nokomis just after 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 15, Mote noted “Moderate” water color and “Some” drift algae, but no dead fish or debris and no respiratory irritation.

Just after 2:30 p.m. the same day on Lido Beach, the water color also was classified as “Moderate,” and “Some” drift algae was present. However, again, no respiratory irritation or dead fish were indicated.

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