Red tide update

Red tide sign

MANATEE COUNTY – Red tide continues to impact Anna Maria Island beaches and Manatee County waterways.

In water samples tested by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as of Friday, Aug. 24, red tide counts were:

  • High at Rod and Reel Pier
  • High at Palma Sola Bay bridge
  • High at Longboat Pass Boat ramp

Respiratory irritation was reported in Manatee County from Aug. 16-23 at Coquina Beach and Manatee Beach. During that week, Manatee County waters showed minimal change in red tide cell concentrations from the previous week.

Red tide FAQs

What is red tide?

A red tide is a higher-than-normal concentration of a microscopic alga (plantlike organism). In the Gulf of Mexico, it is Karenia brevis, often abbreviated as K. brevis. At high concentrations, the organisms may discolor the water, sometimes red, light or dark green, brown or the water may appear clear.

What causes red tide?

A red tide bloom develops when biology (the organisms), chemistry (natural or man-made nutrients for growth) and physics (tides, winds, currents) work to produce the algal bloom. No one factor causes the development of a red tide bloom.

Where can I check the status of red tide at my local beach?

Mote Marine Laboratory

Are red tides new?

No. Red tides were documented in the Gulf of Mexico as far back as the 1700s and along Florida’s Gulf Coast since the 1840s. While red tides and other algal blooms occur worldwide, K. brevis is found almost exclusively in the Gulf of Mexico but has been found on the east coast of Florida and off the coast of North Carolina.

How long does a red tide last?

Red tide blooms can last days, weeks or months, and can also change daily due to wind conditions and ocean currents.

Is it safe to swim in water affected by red tide?

While people swim in red tide, some individuals may experience skin irritation and burning eyes. If your skin is easily irritated, avoid red tide water. If you experience irritation, get out of the ocean and thoroughly wash off with fresh water.

Can red tide affect me when I am not on the beach?

People in coastal areas near the shoreline may experience varying degrees of eye, nose, and throat irritation. When a person leaves an area with red tide, symptoms usually go away. If symptoms persist, please seek medical attention.

Are there people who are more sensitive to the toxins caused by red tide?

People with respiratory problems (like asthma, emphysema or bronchitis) should avoid red tide areas, especially when winds are blowing on shore. If you go to the beach and have one of these conditions, you should be very cautious. If you have symptoms, leave the beach and seek air conditioning (A/C). If symptoms persist, please seek medical attention.

What can I do to lessen the effects of red tide?

People usually get relief from respiratory symptoms by being in air-conditioned spaces. This is also true when driving: keep your car windows up and the A/C or heat on. For people without asthma or any other chronic respiratory problems, over-the-counter antihistamines may relieve symptoms. People with chronic lung ailments should be especially vigilant about taking prescribed medications daily. Always seek medical care if your symptoms worsen.

Can red tide affect pets?

Just like people, pets may be affected by red tide. If you live close to the beach, consider bringing outdoor pets inside during a bloom to prevent respiratory irritation. If you are at the beach with your pets, do not allow them to play with dead fish or foam that may accumulate on the beach during or after a red tide. If your pet swims in the red tide, wash them off with fresh water as soon as possible.

Is seafood in the area safe to eat?

Clams and oysters (mollusks) can contain red tide toxins that cause Neurotoxic Shellfish Poisoning. Check local harvesting status before collecting at Finfish caught live and healthy can be eaten if filleted and rinsed thoroughly. Edible meat of crabs, shrimp and lobsters (shellfish) can be eaten (do not eat the tomalley—the green digestive gland—of shellfish). Do not eat distressed or animals found dead under any circumstances.

Source: Florida Department of Health

Aerial surveys from Pinellas to Charlotte counties, including Manatee, also indicated the presence of offshore blooms of the marine cyanobacterium, Trichodesmium, which is not dangerous to humans or animals.

According to Manatee County’s Friday, Aug. 24 red tide update, the county continues to rake the beaches along the Gulf coast of Anna Maria Island, including Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach, Bayfront Park in Anna Maria and Manatee Beach in Holmes Beach, to clean the beaches of fish and other sea life affected by the recent arrival of red tide. 

  • Beaches are open.
  • Coquina Bayside, Coquina Beach and Cortez Beach north to Bean Point are moderate/heavy with fish.
  • Bayfront Park has moderate fish.
  • Coquina North and South Boat Ramps have moderate/heavy fish.
  • Crews are currently running beach rakes up from Coquina Pass and down from Bean Point.
  • Air quality is moderate with occasional coughing and irritation. Water color is tan/brown in some areas and brownish/reddish in others.
  • The county has contracted with a vendor to clean local waterways, beginning with the most affected areas this week.
  • Red Tide signs are posted at affected beaches and will remain until the red tide bloom is over.

“Red tide blooms can last days, weeks, or months and can change daily due to wind conditions and water currents,” according to the county.

When contacted Friday afternoon, county surf rake operator Mark Taylor said, “The water is still reddish, brown and ugly looking. We’re still getting about the same level of (dead) fish each day as well. The occasional tarpon keeps coming up each day also.

“We are expecting a wind change over the weekend, coming more out of the east. Hopefully, it will push some of this back offshore,” Taylor said.

Sarasota County

According to the Sarasota County website, “All beaches are open, but there is a ‘No Swim’ advisory for four area beaches.”

Sarasota County Health Department officials have issued a red tide advisory for several Sarasota County beaches.

Several beaches have been affected by red tide and high levels of enteric bacteria. ‘NO SWIM’ Advisory for Longboat Key, Lido Casino, Brohard, and Venice Fishing Pier,” the health department website says.

Want to help?

Manatee County is hiring temporary workers to help clean beaches during the red tide bloom for $12.50 an hour. Call Faraja at Ad-VANCE Talent Solutions for more information at 941-739-8883.

For daily red tide conditions updated at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. visit

Manatee County is also operating a Red Tide Hotline at 941-749-3547 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days week.

Canal cleanup services

Manatee County has contracted a vendor to clean local waterways, including those on and around Anna Maria Island.

“Due to the small maneuvering space in the canals, the cleaning must be done with nets and boats by hand. Homeowners and associations may want to continue to work with local fisherman for a more thorough cleaning of any remaining fish,” the county website says. Included at the county website is a list of local fishermen and others who’ve offered to assist with cleaning. Manatee County has not vetted these services. This list is not an endorsement of these businesses.

Contact the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to report fish or marine life impacted by red tide.


Cindy Lane contributed to this report


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