Today’s report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) shows that red tide increased in waters off Anna Maria Island during the week ending Friday, Sept. 21.
Forecasters predict medium concentrations of red tide on the north end of the Island and high concentrations on the rest of the Island through at least Monday, Sept. 24.
The Sept. 21 report shows that Manatee County red tide levels are from 5 percent to 25 percent higher than the previous week. High concentrations were found in water samples on Sept. 17 at Longboat Pass and Cortez Beach, both in Bradenton Beach. Medium concentrations were found on that date at the Rod & Reel Pier in Anna Maria and at the Palma Sola Bay bridge.
Manatee red tide death toll climbs
At least 149 manatees have died during the red tide bloom that has plagued Southwest Florida since October 2017, and which reached Anna Maria Island on Aug. 3.
To date, 56 dead manatees tested positive for red tide, and red tide is suspected in 93 manatee deaths, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Nine manatee deaths have been recorded in Manatee County so far this year, six in Anna Maria Sound and Sarasota Bay; none are confirmed from red tide.
So far this year, 638 manatees have died in state waters, compared to 538 in all of 2017.
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, which was reported on Sept. 14.
Respiratory irritation was reported from Sept. 14-19 at Coquina Beach (Bradenton Beach) and from Sept. 13-20 at Manatee Beach (Holmes Beach).
The last officially reported fish kill in Manatee County was on Sept. 14 on the Manatee River at Bishop’s Point.
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.