Beaches free of red tide

ANNA MARIA ISLAND – Today’s Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) red tide report shows no red tide in Manatee County waters over the past week, and a clear red tide forecast for Anna Maria Island through Monday, March 4.

For the first time in months, the report also reflects no respiratory irritation or fish kills in the county over the past week.

Red tide has gradually disappeared in Manatee County waters over the past month, and remains only in background concentrations in Southwest Florida and Northwest Florida, according to the report. Background concentrations have no discernable effects on people or marine life.

The red tide bloom began in October 2017 in Southwest Florida and appeared locally in August 2018.

Florida red tide, or Karenia brevis, emits a neurotoxin when it blooms that is deadly to marine life. It can make shellfish unfit to eat and can cause respiratory irritation in people, especially those with asthma, COPD or emphysema.

Scientists say that salinity, currents, temperature and light play a part in the formation of blooms, as do nutrients from Florida’s natural phosphate deposits, Caribbean seawater brought to Florida’s west coast on the Loop Current, the Mississippi River, Saharan dust blown across the Atlantic Ocean to Florida’s waters, and fertilizer and animal waste runoff.