The town has received reports of small fish kills, water discoloration and some odor.
Longboat Key received several reports of red tide conditions in the past several days, prompting word from town officials who said they are keeping an eye on near-shore waters of the gulf and the bay.
On Monday morning, Suncoast Waterkeeper board member Rusty Chinnis said he was trying to fish for tarpon with some friends near Longboat Pass and Jewfish Key, when he encountered reduced water visibility.
“The water was the color of river water,” Chinnis said. “Heck, you couldn’t see through it, and there was a line of dead fish going out Longboat Pass on the tideline with a bunch of different seagrass.”
Town Manager Tom Harmer said the town has also received reports of red tide near the New Pass Bridge.
The town issued a news release on Monday morning about reports of minor respiratory irritation, some odor in areas along the Gulf of Mexico with water discoloration and minor fish kills beachside.
“We just wanted to get some information as soon as we could and then start our daily monitoring on conditions,” Town Manager Tom Harmer said.
Harmer said the town’s Public Works Department is responsible for monitoring the conditions.
Monday morning’s conditions prompted Chinnis to post a video to YouTube of what he saw.
On Monday morning, Jessica Lemmer brought her children Tatum and Peyton to Quick Point Nature Preserve to go fishing. The 31-year-old Sarasota native has enjoyed fishing for most of her life.
“It’s the worst I’ve ever seen it,” Lemmer said. “I mean, as far as smell goes, I’ve smelled really bad red tide, but I’ve never seen the dead fish like this just everywhere.”
Lemmer’s children noticed the smell.
“It stinks,” Tatum Lemmer said.
Lemmer said she didn’t see any signs of red tide on Sunday night while fishing near the Ringling Bridge.
The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County has issued red tide advisories for several south county beaches. It includes Nokomis, Venice, Service Club, Venice Fishing Pier, Brohard, Caspersen, Manasota Key and Blind Pass. Data from additional testing sites was expected soon.
It comes after the National Weather Service issued a hazardous beach statement Saturday night for southern coastal areas of Pinellas County. The statement lasts through Monday evening.
The town of Longboat Key recommends avoiding dead sea life, seagrass and sea weed on the beach and the use of floating barriers to prevent canal and boat basin accumulations.
“There are no rules against burying dead sea life on beaches,” the town’s release states. “However, property owners must do so in front of their own property and must ensure proper depth to avoid re-exposure.”
The town’s deployment of resources is based on the following criteria:
- Town assessments of dead sea life concentrations and lack of movement
- Weather conditions, including tidal action wind speed and direction
- Bloom conditions
Anyone with questions can call the town at 941-316-1988.
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