The harmful algal bloom known as the red tide has once again disappeared from coastal waters around Manatee County and Anna Maria Island.
Other areas of southwest Florida are also seeing a significant decline in the presence and intensity of toxic algae, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The region has seen continuous and variable levels of red tide since the end of 2020, with some areas being hit harder than others.
Karenia brevis, the organism that causes red tide, was not present in any of the water samples taken Monday around coastal Manatee County. Sampling locations included the waters around the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and lower Tampa Bay, Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve, Palma Sola Bay, Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key.
Over the past week, red tide algae has been observed at “medium” strength, or bloom level, around AMI and Longboat Key. At medium and higher levels, algae are more likely to cause negative impacts. These impacts include the death of fish and other marine life and respiratory irritation in humans that can make beach visits unpleasant.
This week, no dead fish or respiratory irritation were seen at popular Gulf of Mexico beaches on AMI and Longboat Key, according to the Mote Marine Laboratory’s live beach condition tracker, which is updated by lifeguards. .
North of Manatee, red tide was also not observed this week in any samples around Pinellas County. To the south, the algae was detected at background to low concentrations in three samples off Sarasota County, according to FWC, but it was not present in samples near the shore.
Red tide forecast
Waters in the Tampa Bay area and Manatee County are expected to remain tide-free this weekend, according to a forecast produced by the University of South Florida and the Florida Wildlife Research Institute.
And the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration rates the risk of respiratory irritation as “very low” for beaches in Pinellas, Manatee and Sarasota counties.
Satellite images compiled by NOAA show smaller, less dense masses of algae drifting in the Gulf of Mexico compared to recent weeks.