Red tide in air; water clear

Updated Feb. 15, 2019 | ANNA MARIA ISLAND – No red tide is predicted for Manatee County waters through Monday, Feb. 18, according to today’s report from the University of South Florida/Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Collaboration for Prediction of Red Tides.

Manatee County waters have remained clear of the toxic algae since Jan. 11, however, respiratory irritation was reported in Manatee County over the past week, according to the FWC and NOAA. Red tide can be carried on the wind to areas where the water is free of the algae.

Statewide over the past week, red tide was observed at background concentrations offshore of Charlotte County in Southwest Florida, where the bloom began in October 2017, reaching Anna Maria Island waters in August 2018.

Florida red tide, or Karenia brevis, is a type of microalgae that emits a neurotoxin when it blooms. Deadly to marine life, red tide also can make shellfish unfit to eat and can cause respiratory irritation in people, especially those with asthma, COPD or emphysema.

According to scientists, salinity, currents, temperature and light play a part in the formation of blooms, as do nutrients from Florida’s natural phosphate deposits, nutrients from Caribbean seawater brought to Florida’s west coast on the Loop Current, nutrients flowing into the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi River, iron-rich Saharan dust blown across the Atlantic Ocean to Florida’s waters, and fertilizer and animal waste runoff.