Red tide continues to fluctuate

Turkey vultures
Turkey vultures have become a common sight around Anna Maria Island, attracted by the dead fish killed by red tide. - Cindy Lane | Sun

Medium levels of red tide are predicted through at least Monday, Dec. 10 on Anna Maria Island, according to the University of South Florida/Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Collaboration for Prediction of Red Tides.

The most recent FWC water samples available show these concentrations of red tide:

Not present or background: Mead Point at Perico Island, Dec. 4

Very low: Cortez Beach (Bradenton Beach), Dec. 3; Robinson Preserve, Dec. 5

Low: Rod and Reel Pier (Anna Maria), Dec. 3; Longboat Pass boat ramp (Sarasota Bay), Dec. 3

Medium levels: Palma Sola Bay bridge, Dec. 5.

  • Background concentrations of red tide cause no anticipated effects.
  • Very low levels can cause respiratory irritation.
  • 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.

Respiratory irritation was reported Nov. 29 and Dec. 1-5 at Coquina Beach (Bradenton Beach) and Dec. 1-6 at Manatee Beach (Holmes Beach).

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

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.

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Red tide resources