Water samples analyzed Tuesday show a red tide bloom detected off Southwest Florida has moved further into Sarasota County.
Medium to high levels of of Karenia brevis, the organism that causes Florida’s red tide, were discovered off southern Sarasota County, around Manasota Key and Nokomis, while low levels were detected in the northern end of the county.
Satellite images show the bloom stretches from northern Lee County to Sarasota County, said Hayley Rutger, public relations coordinator for Mote Marine Laboratory.
Mote scientists are continuing to collect water samples, working with the county health department. Mote has also deployed its autonomous underwater vehicle, nicknamed “Waldo,” that can test for red tide under the Gulf of Mexico’s surface and determine which direction the currents are moving.
Dead fish have been found along the southern end of the county, and beachgoers reported irritation at Manasota Beach, Venice Beach and Venice North Jetty.
At this time last year, county staff cleaned dead fish from Blind Pass Beach, part of Manasota Key, which is the southernmost beach in Sarasota County.
Water samples tested Tuesday, Oct. 9, showed that the Karenia brevis levels further north in Sarasota County are low.
“They are very low but we are still watching it carefully,” Rutger said.