August 29th, 2018. The red tide outbreak in Florida has left many travelers wondering if they should seek a beach holiday elsewhere.
What is being called the worst toxic algae bloom in years has been killing turtles, manatees, dolphins, and other marine life. It is also creating respiratory and gastrointestinal issues for humans. Many of Florida’s popular west coast beaches from Tampa Bay to Sarasota to Naples are practically deserted as the red tide takes effect.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, red tide is a naturally-occurring microscopic alga that has been documented along Florida’s Gulf Coast since the 1840s.
Blooms, or higher-than-normal concentrations of the red tide alga, known as Karenia brevis, happen nearly every year in the Gulf of Mexico. Red tide begins in the Gulf of Mexico 10 to 40 miles offshore but can move inshore pushed by winds and currents.
The Red tide (karenia brevis) has persisted during the month of August on Anna Maria Island and other nearby coastal communities. The Red tide has shown no signs of waning as August ends. Karenia brevis, was observed at background to low concentrations in six samples collected from Pinellas County, very low concentrations in two samples collected from or offshore of Hillsborough County, background to high concentrations in five samples collected from Manatee County (The Anna Maria Island area), background to high concentrations in 38 samples collected from or offshore of Sarasota County, background to high concentrations in 10 samples collected from or offshore of Charlotte County, background to high concentrations in 29 samples collected from or offshore of Lee County, and very low to high concentrations in 11 samples collected from Collier County. The Red tide in the bay is part of a 145-mile-long toxic bloom stretching from northern Collier to Pinellas counties, with K. brevis patches 10-50 miles off shore according to FWC information.
The Red tide has reportedly killed over a one million pounds of fish and numerous dolphins, sea turtles (more than 135) and manatees.
Residents of Manatee County have stepped up to the plate and going the extra mile to keep Anna Maria island beaches as clean as possible, even though a new tide, current or the wind can erase a good deal of the previous day’s clean-up efforts. Creative solutions abound, including arranging for local fishermen, whose own businesses are suffering, to be hired to clean out dead fish from the local canals. Manatee County, the island cities and other community organizations are organizing volunteer clean-up efforts. A large number of folks and residents are also coming out to assist with these outstanding community efforts.
Latest Red Tide Status Report Available by Phone
Call 866-300-9399 at any time from anywhere in Florida to hear a recording about red tide conditions throughout the state. Callers outside of Florida can dial 727-552-2448.