St. Petersburg and Tampa, you’re clear.
Bradenton, you’ve apparently received a free pass.
Sarasota, be mindful (or noseful) at the beaches.
For the first time this year, scientists last week recorded low concentration levels of that noxious algae bloom with a name that makes bay area anglers recall a horrendous 2006-07 year of dead fish, burning lungs and searing noses: Red tide.
Many anglers fishing Upper Tampa Bay through the summer have noticed an orange-like bloom. That was not red tide, according to Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission Research Institute research scientist Alina Corcoran.
Satellite images showed a unmeasured amount of red tide is moving southward. Last Thursday, the images showed it hovering on the beaches outside Charlotte County.
Low levels have been recorded off Manasota Beach and in Blind Pass, said Mote public relations coordinator Hayley Rutger.
She said low levels are enough to potentially give beach-goers respiratory problems.
Red tide conditions can quickly change, and fishers and beach goers can receive red tide updates at mote.org/beaches for Sarasota beaches or myfwc.com/research/redtide for statewide updates about red tide.
Updates also are available by calling toll free at 800-300-9399 or 727-552-2448.
Red Tide's Effects
How will you know red tide could be drifting about the surf?
“If you go to the beach and you feel yourself coughing or you feel like you’re getting respiratory trouble,” Rutger said.
Red tide in 2006 wiped out fish populations, most notably tarpon, bait fish and grouper. Manatees also were decimated. But there had been little reports of red tide since, and this fall’s collection off Sarasota is nowhere near the levels of ’06.
Fortunately, scientists and anglers are reporting populations of all the species hit hardest by that red tide have adequately rebounded.
Rutger said red tide is a natural occurrence, unrelated to polluted waters since the bloom develops in clean offshore waters. (Although the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill could change that.) So red tide isn’t the worst for long-term fish and marine life populations, but beach goers could do without the burning symptoms.
FWC scientists are gaining understanding about how red tide makes its way to our beaches. Corcoran said the bloom typically begins 10 to 40 miles offshore before wind-driven currents drive it to land. Thanks to the FWC’s partnership with the University of South Florida, the Center for Red Tide Prediction can predict the bloom’s direction.
“They predicted this one would move southward,” Corcoran said. “And it did.”
The FWC also is asking anglers report fish kills to its fish-kill hotline at 800-636-0511.