Red tide gone with the wind

- Cindy Lane | Sun

ANNA MARIA ISLAND – A NOAA scientist’s prediction that recent storms gave red tide a fatal beating appears to be coming true just in time for high tourist season.

For the first time in 14 months, no red tide is predicted in Southwest Florida in today’s three-day forecast by the University of South Florida/Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Collaboration for Prediction of Red Tides.

Another first – red tide was not found in any water samples collected last week in Florida waters except for one in Manatee County, a background concentration at the Palma Sola Bay bridge, according to today’s FWC report.

Background concentrations of red tide cause no anticipated effects on people or marine life.

NOAA oceanographer Rick Stumpf told The Sun last week that the Dec. 20-21 storm would likely break up the bloom that began in Southwest Florida in October 2017 and arrived in Anna Maria Island waters on Aug. 3. The bloom rivaled one in 2005-06 that lasted 14 months.

Red tide cells crippled by winds gusting to 50 mph and waves cresting at 10 feet would be unable to swim toward nutrients, he predicted, saying, “If we have a normal winter this year, this will be the end of the bloom.”

No fish kills were reported in Manatee County last week, but respiratory irritation was reported on Dec. 21 and Dec. 25-26 at Manatee Beach, according to the FWC.

Florida red tide, or Karenia brevis, is a type of microalgae that emits a neurotoxin when it blooms. Deadly to marine life, red tide also can make shellfish unfit to eat and can cause respiratory irritation in people.

Background concentrations of red tide cause no anticipated effects. Very low levels cause possible respiratory irritation. Low levels cause respiratory irritation, shellfish harvesting closures and possible fish kills. Medium levels cause respiratory irritation, shellfish harvesting closures and probable fish kills. High levels cause all of the above, plus water discoloration.

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