Red tide levels rise again in Sarasota and Manatee counties

After dissipating in late August, the red tide that killed marine life and closed beaches is back.

For nearly 11 months, the red tide lingered off the coast of southwest Florida, and samples from Monday show levels are rising in Sarasota and Manatee counties as winds continue to push proliferation around local waters.

This week, low to medium levels were measured off Anna Maria Island in Manatee County, and medium to high red tide levels were measured in parts of southern Sarasota County, samples show of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

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Dead fish were spotted as late as Tuesday on Holmes Beach and Wednesday at Nokomis Beach and Venice North Jetty Beach, according to reports on the condition of Mote Marine Beach.

Mote Marine Beach Ambassadors are also reporting the presence of stinging marine animals such as jellyfish on a number of local beaches.

In an email sent to stakeholders on Tuesday evening, FWC science researcher Kate Hubbard said the red tide event had been going on for almost 11 months. Once this mark is reached, it will be one of the ten longest blooms on record since 1953.

A map showing the most recent red tide sample data, as of September 29.

“This is a very long term red tide,” said Dave Tomasko, director of the Sarasota Bay Estuary program.

He said the highest red tide levels are near the Venice area, near the passes and offshore. Heavy rains diluted the amount of salt in the water so conditions in the bay are bad for the growth of the red tide.

“There is a very strong red tide off Venice in particular,” said Tomasko. “It’s at least 50 square miles in size. The worst part is it’s about 10 miles offshore.

The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program will host a public water quality restoration workshop on October 5, during which stakeholders will discuss ways to improve water quality.

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