Patchy red tide forecast at high levels

Dead fish, presumably killed by red tide, float in the 63rd Street canal off Marina Drive in Holmes Beach this week. - Cindy Lane | Sun

High levels of patchy red tide are predicted through at least Monday, Nov. 26 around Anna Maria Island, with medium levels to the north and south of the Island, according to the University of South Florida/Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Collaboration for Prediction of Red Tides.

The Nov. 23 FWC report shows high concentrations of red tide in water samples collected on Nov. 19 at Longboat Pass boat ramp in Sarasota Bay. Medium levels were found on Nov. 19 at Cortez Beach in Bradenton Beach and the Rod and Reel Pier in Anna Maria, with medium levels at School Key on Nov. 20, high levels at Mead Point in lower Tampa Bay on Nov. 20 and low levels at the Palma Sola Bay bridge on Nov. 19.

Respiratory irritation was reported Nov. 13-19 at Coquina Beach (Bradenton Beach) and Nov. 15-17 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 present in the southwest Gulf of Mexico for the past year, reaching Anna Maria Island in early August. It was detected in Florida’s Atlantic Ocean waters in October.

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