Red tide lingers

red tide beach
This stretch of beach in Bradenton Beach looked good this morning. - Manatee County | Submitted

ANNA MARIA ISLAND – Today’s red tide update from Manatee County indicates improving conditions on some Anna Maria Island beaches, but red tide levels remain high in the water at both ends of the Island, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Red tide levels remain high at the Rod & Reel Pier in Anna Maria, the Longboat Pass boat ramp in Bradenton Beach and the Palma Sola Bay Bridge, according to Wednesday’s report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Red tide was present in very low to high concentrations in 11 water samples collected from Manatee County. Levels ranged from 5-25 percent higher in Manatee County from Aug. 18-24 compared to the previous week, according to the FWC.

Respiratory irritation was reported from Aug. 16-23 at Coquina Beach and Manatee Beach, and fish kills continue.

Aerial surveys from Pinellas to northern Charlotte counties, including Manatee County, also indicate the presence of offshore blooms of the marine cyanobacterium Trichodesmium, which is not harmful to people.

According to today’s Manatee County beach update:

  • Beaches are open
  • Coquina Bayside, Coquina Beach and Cortez Beach north to Bean Point are clean
  • Bayfront Park has minor seaweed
  • Coquina North and South Boat Ramps are clean
  • Crews are working to rake the beaches as needed
  • Red tide signs are posted at affected beaches and will remain until the red tide bloom is over.

Manatee County beach rake operator Mark Taylor said the beaches today are “Much better. The water still doesn’t look right because that stuff is just offshore.”

As for the type of dead marine life on the beach Thursday morning, Taylor said, “Just a few catfish, horseshoe crabs, queen crabs, etc. But it’s very light. The east wind is definitely our friend for now.”

RTU AM Beach
This jogger enjoyed a run on a clean beach in Anna Maria this morning. – Chantelle Lewin | Sun

After taking a walk on the beach in Anna Maria this morning, Sun Advertising Director Chantelle Lewin said that area of beach was clear.

“All’s good. Looks like an awesome weekend,” Lewin said.

As has been the case since the red tide reached Anna Maria Island on Aug. 3, the impacts of red tide vary from day to day and location to location.

On Thursday morning, Bradenton Beach resident Steve Schewe said, “It smells in Bradenton Beach and it stinks on Longboat Key.”

Residential canals

On Wednesday, the residential canal at 21st Place North contained only a few dead and floating fish, but a block away the end of the residential canal at 20th Place North was filled with dead fish and horseshoe crabs. One of the floating fish was filled with maggots and flies were active on several others.

RTU BB Canal II
This residential canal on 20th Place North in Bradenton Beach remains filled with dead marine life and seagrass. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

On the mainland, the Coral Shores canals along Cortez Road that looked horrific two weeks ago had only a handful of floating fish still remaining Wednesday afternoon.

Last week, the Coral Shores canals were among those cleaned by APTIM – the Boca Raton firm contracted by Manatee County at a cost of $140,000 for one week’s worth of cleanup services. APTIM’s services were discontinued at the conclusion of the workday on Aug. 24.

RTU Coral Shores Canal
On Wednesday, this Coral Shores canal looked much better than it did two weeks ago. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

The canals at the nearby Mt. Vernon community were also free of any large masses of dead fish on Wednesday, but a couple of dead horseshoe crabs were spotted floating in one of the canals.

On Monday, the county announced that it was transitioning to a voluntary “Nets to Neighbors” maintenance and light cleanup program that includes nets, buckets and dumpsters provided by the county in certain areas. The Coral Shores dumpster contained no dead fish or red tide debris as of Wednesday afternoon.

RTU Coral Shores Dumpster
On Wednesday, this dumpster in the Coral Shores neighborhood contained no dead fish. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

Local fishermen

After being contracted by the city of Anna Maria for a second time, Cortez fishermen Nathan Meschelle, Tanner Pelkey, Matt Smith and Michael Dolan spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday down at the former and future site of the Anna Maria City Pier cleaning seagrass and a very few number of dead fish off the beach.

Pelkey said the presence of seagrass is a normal occurrence. Meschelle said he thinks the red tide is dissipating and he hopes to return to fishing as soon as possible. Over the past weekend, Meschelle was contracted to do some canal cleanup for the Wild Oak Bay community on Cortez Road.

“That was some pretty nasty stuff down there,” Meschelle said. “We cleaned over 1,000 square yards of carnage that had drifted in.”

RTU Cortez Fishermen
These Cortez fishermen spent three days cleaning a stretch of city beach in Anna Maria. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

 – Cindy Lane contributed to this report.

For more information, visit The Sun’s Red Tide Resources.

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