County health officials detected elevated levels of enteric bacteria Thursday in the waters near Bird Key Park, a designated dog park, which is west of the Ringling Bridge. Swimming during the advisory, which will be in place until at least Saturday when follow-up water testing results will be released, could lead to stomach illnesses, rashes or infections, said Sarasota County Environmental Health Administrator Tom Higginbotham in a release.
Human sewage, stormwater runoff, rotting algae and pet waste spread the bacteria. The county's response team has ruled out sewage spills and determined the cause was likely due to natural sources.
The response team determined pet waste had been left along the beach; it also observed large amounts of decaying marine algae near the shore of Bird Key Park. According to the release, rainfall produced stormwater flow that washed the pet waste, along with other pollutants including bacteria from birds and wildlife, into the bay.
Local health officials say people can still visit the beach but are urged not to swim or wade in the water or engage in water recreation until the advisory has been lifted.
Testing has revealed bacteria levels within acceptable limits at the following area beaches: North Lido Beach, South Lido Beach, Lido Casino Beach, Siesta Key Beach, Brohard Beach, Caspersen Beach, Manasota Key Beach, Blind Pass Beach, North Jetty Beach, Venice Beach, Venice Fishing Pier, Service Club Beach, Longboat Key Beach, Turtle Beach and Nokomis Beach.