Red tide worsens and spreads to Tampa Bay. Dead fish found on Anna Maria Island

Bradenton Herald

Red tide worsens and spreads to Tampa Bay. Dead fish found on Anna Maria Island

Ryan Ballogg – November 16, 2022

A red tide bloom has worsened in Southwest Florida waters this week, the latest samples from the state show.

The algae that causes red tide, Karenia brevis, was observed at elevated levels in Tampa Bay, around Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key and in Sarasota Bay. Dead fish and breathing irritation have been reported on local beaches.

The bloom remains most intense further south offshore of Sarasota, Charlotte and Lee counties, according to samples from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation commission.

On Monday, a very low concentration of red tide algae was detected in a water sample near the Rod and Reel Pier in Anna Maria —down from medium levels last week— and a medium concentration was again found in waters near Longboat Pass in Bradenton Beach.

University of South Florida’s red tide for predicts that very low levels of the algae will continue to circulate around Anna Maria Island through this weekend. At very low levels, respiratory irritation is possible.

USF predicts that low to medium levels of the algae will circulate around Longboat Key, with high levels persisting farther south in Sarasota Bay.

At levels of medium and above, which are considered “bloom concentrations” of the algae, respiratory irritation and fish kills are likely.

Slight breathing irritation and a few dead fish were reported on Anna Maria Island beaches this week, Mote Marine Laboratory’s red tide beach conditions report said. To the south, moderate breathing irritation and numerous dead fish were observed on several Sarasota County beaches.

Red tide’s patchy nature means that even beaches in close proximity can have very different conditions. Respiratory irritation and dead fish can also become more or less present as wind directions and tides change.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts the respiratory threat from red tide. On Wednesday, NOAA warned that beachgoers in Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties could experience moderate to high levels of respiratory irritation over the next 36 hours.

On Monday, the Florida Department of Health Manatee County issued a red tide health alert for the following beaches:

  • Bayfront Park
  • Coquina Beach South
  • Longboat Pass/Coquina Boat Ramp
  • Rod and Reel Pier (City of Anna Maria Island)

FDOH-Manatee offers the following red tide safety tips:

  • Look for informational signage posted at most beaches.
  • Stay away from the water.
  • Do not swim in waters with dead fish.
  • Those with chronic respiratory problems should be especially cautious and stay away from these locations as red tide can affect your breathing.
  • Do not harvest or eat molluscan shellfish or distressed or dead fish from these locations. If caught live and healthy, finfish are safe to eat as long as they are filleted and the guts are discarded. Rinse fillets with tap or bottled water.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and fresh water if you have had recent contact with red tide.
  • Keep pets and livestock away and out of the water, sea foam and dead sea life. If your pet swims in waters with red tide, wash your pet as soon as possible.
  • Residents living in beach areas are advised to close windows and run the air conditioner, making sure that the A/C filter is maintained according to manufacturer’s specifications.
  • If outdoors near an affected location, residents may choose to wear masks, especially if onshore winds are blowing.

FDOH-Sarasota issued a health advisory for all 16 of Sarasota County’s public beaches last week.

A map from University of South Florida’s Ocean Circulation Lab shows the red tide forecast in the Tampa Bay region over the coming days.
A map from University of South Florida’s Ocean Circulation Lab shows the red tide forecast in the Tampa Bay region over the coming days.

Author: John Hanno

Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Bogan High School. Worked in Alaska after the earthquake. Joined U.S. Army at 17. Sergeant, B Battery, 3rd Battalion, 84th Artillery, 7th Army. Member of 12 different unions, including 4 different locals of the I.B.E.W. Worked for fortune 50, 100 and 200 companies as an industrial electrician, electrical/electronic technician.