Red tide forecast at high levels

Red tide canal
Red tide caused fish kills in Holmes Beach canals last week. - Cindy Lane | Sun

The red tide forecast for Anna Maria Island is high through Monday, Dec. 3, according to the University of South Florida/Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Collaboration for Prediction of Red Tides.

The Nov. 30 FWC report shows low concentrations of red tide in water samples collected on Nov. 26 at the Rod and Reel Pier in Anna Maria and at Longboat Pass boat ramp in Sarasota Bay. Medium levels were found at Cortez Beach in Bradenton Beach and at the Palma Sola Bay bridge.

Red tide beach
Dead fish still wash up on Island beaches, but not in the quantities they did when the outbreak began in early August. – Cindy Lane | Sun

Respiratory irritation was reported Nov. 22-23 and Nov. 25-29 at Coquina Beach (Bradenton Beach) and Nov. 24-28 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 more than a year, reaching Anna Maria Island in early August.