FWC: Red tide increasing

Red tide cells
Karenia brevis (red tide) cells - Mote Marine | Submitted

Red tide is increasing again in the Gulf of Mexico off Anna Maria Island, according to today’s report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

The Sept. 7 report shows that red tide levels are from 5 percent to 25 percent higher than last week.

Low concentrations of red tide were found in water samples taken at the Rod & Reel Pier in Anna Maria. Medium concentrations were found in water at Longboat Pass and at Cortez Beach, both in Bradenton Beach, and background concentrations were found at the Palma Sola Bay bridge.

Background concentrations of red tide cause no anticipated effects. Low levels can cause respiratory irritation, shellfish harvesting closures and possible fish kills. Medium levels can cause respiratory irritation, shellfish harvesting closures and probable fish kills. High levels can cause all of the above, plus water discoloration.

Respiratory irritation was reported from Aug. 30 to Sept. 5 at Coquina Beach (Bradenton Beach) and from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 and again on Sept. 4 at Manatee Beach (Holmes Beach).

The last reported fish kill in Manatee County was on Aug. 31 in Bradenton Beach.

Persistent surface currents before, during and after the passage of Tropical Storm Gordon likely played a role in transporting Karenia brevis red tide cells to the northwest, according to FWC.

Red tide is a type of algae that emits a neurotoxin when it blooms. Deadly to fish, sea turtles, marine mammals and shorebirds that feed on affected fish, red tide makes shellfish unfit to eat, and can cause respiratory irritation in people, especially those with asthma, COPD or other respiratory diseases.

Call 866-300-9399 in Florida to hear a recording about red tide conditions. Callers outside of Florida, call 727-552-2448.