Red tide no longer a threat to Southwest Florida, based on FWC reports since mid-May

No ‘bloom concentrations’ observed over past weeks

Since May 17, no samples of water collected from the Gulf Coast have shown bloom concentrations of the red tide algae, Karenia brevis, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) updates have shown.

A bloom concentration is so designated if it contains more than 100,000 cells of the algae per liter of water, FWC explains.

The last report noting the collection of a sample with a bloom concentration was on May 12. The agency said that sample came from Sarasota County.

Further, the May 12 update noted that Karenia brevis was observed in background to medium concentrations in Sarasota County; background to very low concentrations in and offshore of Pinellas County; background concentrations in Manatee County; background to very low concentrations in Lee County; background to low concentrations in Collier County; and background concentrations offshore of Monroe County.

Even though no bloom concentrations were detected in 59 samples collected for the May 17 FWC red tide report, the agency did point to levels of the algae ranging from background to low. Again, samples put Sarasota County in a category with more of a problem than any other Southwest Florida county but Charlotte.

That status for Sarasota and Charlotte counties was cited again in FWC’s May 19 report.

However, by the time of the May 24 update, FWC said that only background concentrations of Karenia brevis were observed in Sarasota County, while Charlotte still had background to low concentrations. That report noted background to very low concentrations in and offshore of Pinellas County, but background concentrations only for Lee and Collier counties.

Two days later, on May 26, FWC cited “background and very low concentrations” of the algae in and offshore of Sarasota County, with the same conditions in and offshore of Lee County. The agency cited background to low concentrations in Charlotte County and background concentrations offshore of Manatee and Monroe counties, plus background concentrations in and offshore of Collier County.

Samples collected for the June 2 update showed background concentrations only, and those were in one Lee County sample.

Additionally, that June 2 report said that no fish kills suspected to be linked to red tide and no respiratory irritation had been reported over the past seven days.

Moreover, the June 2 report’s Coastal Red Tide Forecast map for June 7 through June 10, produced by FWC in collaboration with the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science, indicated no expectation of the algae for that period in or offshore of Southwest Florida.

FWC did not issue a midweek report on June 7.

The red tide that plagued Gulf waters off Florida over the past months was linked to stormwater runoff produced by Hurricane Ian in September 2022.