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Sarasota beaches likely to avoid recent red tide bloom

The latest bloom is not expected north of Venice.

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  • | 2:57 p.m. January 16, 2018
  • Longboat Key
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A medium red tide bloom that spread into southern Sarasota County last week is not expected to reach the northern part of the county, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium scientist Tracy Fanara said Tuesday.

Red tide has spread along the Lee and Charlotte coasts this week, killing fish and causing respiratory irritation. After currents helped spread the outbreak to southern Sarasota County near Venice, Fanara said it is not expected to continue farther north.

Red tide is a microscopic phytoplankton alga that carries a toxin that can be fatal to marine life. The toxins can also travel through the air, causing respiratory irritation for humans.  

Red tide can occur any time of the year but is most common in late summer and early fall. It has been documented almost every year somewhere along Florida’s Gulf Coast since the 1840s

In September 2016, the alga hung around Longboat Key and other barrier island beaches until April of the following year. Longboat cleaned up more than 55 tons of dead fish along the island’s beaches and canals in the first two months of the bloom alone.

Mote works with citizen reporters and outside scientists to monitor the Gulf Coast for red tide. Citizens can report suspected red tide outbreaks through the Citizen Science Information Collaboration, a free smartphone app.

The blooms can be patchy and difficult to detect, but Fanara said beachgoers should be on the watch for discolored water, dead marine life or respiratory irritation.

“The more information we can get from citizens, the better we can communicate the effects,” Fanara said.”


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