Red tide forecast remains high

High levels of red tide are forecast through at least Monday, Nov. 12 in waters around Anna Maria Island, according to the University of South Florida/Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Collaboration for Prediction of Red Tides.

The Nov. 9 report shows high concentrations of red tide in water samples collected on Nov. 5 in the Gulf of Mexico at Longboat Pass boat ramp in Sarasota Bay, with medium concentrations at Cortez Beach in Bradenton Beach, the Rod and Reel Pier in Anna Maria and at School Key in lower Tampa Bay. No red tide was found at the Palma Sola Bay bridge.

Respiratory irritation was reported on Oct. 31, Nov. 2-3, Nov. 5-7 at Coquina Beach (Bradenton Beach) and Oct. 31, Nov. 3 and Nov. 5-8 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 in October.