Red tide — better, but still hanging on
ENGLEWOOD — Bob and Doreen Parkinson describe themselves as “snowbirds in training.”
The couple from Long Island, N.Y., own a home on Manasota Key and like to come to Englewood three or four times a year. The timing for their latest visit may be fortuitous.
Thanks to northeast winds, the Parkinsons said Thursday they’ve been able to enjoy Englewood Beach without catching the stench of red tide, and without finding dead fish floating onshore like a week ago.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission researcher Alina Corcoran said the eastern winds have been helpful, blowing the red tide from shorelines. The latest bloom — which can be found from Pinellas County to northern Collier County — has been broken up into patches, Corcoran said.
But that doesn’t mean red tide has completely disappeared from local waters or will do so anytime soon.
“It’s hard to say whether (the red tide bloom) is at the end of its life,” Corcoran said.
The FWC reported Wednesday the highest concentration — more than 1 million cells per liter of water — was collected earlier this week in Gulf waters at Blind Pass Beach on Manasota Key.
In Manatee and mid-Sarasota counties, the red tide organism was detected in background to medium concentrations, with lower and minimal levels in northern Sarasota County waters.
From southern Sarasota through Lee counties, concentrations ranged from very low to medium. Gasparilla Sound saw medium concentrations, the report stated.
Very low, “background” concentrations of Karenia brevis — the red tide alga — are natural in the Gulf of Mexico, researchers say.
Researchers deem the “background” presence of red tide as levels of 1,000 cells or fewer per liter of water. Very low counts are more than 1,000 cells to fewer than 5,000 cells per liter.
Red tide can cause fish kills and respiratory irritations when levels exceed 100,000 cells or more of the algae concentrated in a liter of water.
According to researchers, winds and currents drive red tide blooms ashore. Toxins generally are released when the algal cells break up due to wave action.
The FWC hasn’t received any new reports of fish kills in Sarasota and Charlotte counties. The last reported fish kill for Sarasota County was
Oct. 10 in Nokomis. The last local fish kill was reported Oct. 12 off Boca Grande.
FWC officials encourage people to call 866-300-9399 at any time from anywhere in Florida to learn about red tide conditions throughout the state. Callers outside Florida can dial 727-552-2448.
Anyone who discovers diseased, abnormal or dead fish from red tide or any other cause can call 800-636-0511.
More information about red tide can be found at www.myfwc.com/research/redtide.