Weekend red tide forecast varies

ANNA MARIA ISLAND – The University of South Florida/Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) predicts no red tide through Monday, Jan. 21 in Manatee County, but NOAA predicts respiratory irritation, according to today’s reports.

While the USF/FWC Collaboration for Prediction of Red Tides gives the all-clear to Manatee County, NOAA’s Gulf of Mexico Harmful Algal Bloom Bulletin today predicts moderate levels of respiratory irritation through Monday, Jan. 21 on Manatee County’s Gulf side and moderate to high levels of irritation on the bay side.

NOAA defines “moderate” levels as affecting the general public with mild symptoms, in addition to those sensitive to red tide and those with chronic respiratory conditions.

Concentrations of red tide are patchy, and respiratory irritation will vary based on bloom concentration, ocean currents and wind speed and direction, according to NOAA, which notes on its website that “Parts of the U.S. Government are closed. However, because the information this site provides is necessary to protect life and property, it will be updated and maintained during the Federal Government shutdown.”

Mote Marine Laboratory’s beach report today showed no respiratory irritation at Manatee Beach or Coquina Beach.

Red tide was not found in water samples at the Rod & Reel Pier in Anna Maria, the Longboat Pass boat ramp in Bradenton Beach or Palma Sola Bay on Jan. 14, according to today’s FWC report.

No fish kills were reported in Manatee County, but respiratory irritation was reported on Jan. 10-12, Jan. 14 and Jan. 16-17 at Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach and Jan. 10, Jan. 12, and Jan. 14 at Manatee Beach in Holmes Beach, according to the FWC.

The bloom began in Southwest Florida in October 2017 and arrived in Anna Maria Island waters on Aug. 3; it has now surpassed the most recent record red tide of 2005-06.

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.