Red tide forecast high through Saturday

Red tide is forecast to be high in the air and water around Anna Maria Island through at least Saturday, Nov. 3, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reports today.

The Oct. 31 report shows high concentrations of red tide in water samples collected on Oct. 29 at Cortez Beach and Longboat Pass boat ramp, both in Bradenton Beach, with medium concentrations at the Rod and Reel Pier in Anna Maria and at Perico Island.

Water samples taken on Monday, Oct. 29 show high and medium levels of red tide around Anna Maria Island.

Gov. Rick Scott announced today that $765,000 will go toward funding additional FWC scientists and field and laboratory equipment to support efforts to mitigate the impacts of red tide, and that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has committed nearly $1.3 million in grant funding to Atlantic coast communities to support efforts to mitigate the impacts of red tide.

Respiratory irritation was reported Oct. 18-23 and Oct. 25 at Coquina Beach (Bradenton Beach) and Oct. 18, Oct. 20-21 and Oct. 23-25 at Manatee Beach (Holmes Beach).

Fish kills also were reported in Manatee County over the past week.

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.

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.

The toxic algae bloom has been spreading in the southwest Gulf of Mexico for the past year, reaching Anna Maria Island in early August. It was detected in Florida’s east coast waters early this month.