In an update on the red tide in Southwest Florida, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says bloom of the Florida red tide organism, Karenia brevis, persists in the area.
In Southwest Florida over the past week, K. brevis was observed at background to low concentrations in two samples collected from Pinellas County, low to high concentrations in seven samples collected from Manatee County, background to high concentrations in 40 samples collected from or offshore of Sarasota County, very low to high concentrations in 13 samples collected from or offshore of Charlotte County, background to high concentrations in 69 samples collected from or offshore of Lee County, and background to high concentrations in 18 samples collected from or offshore of Collier County.
Fish kills have been reported over the past week in multiple locations in Manatee County, in Sarasota County, in Charlotte County, in Lee County, and in and offshore of Collier County.
Respiratory irritation was reported over the past week in numerous places along Florida’s west coast.
The National Ocean Service says while many people call these blooms ‘red tides,’ scientists prefer the term harmful algal bloom. One of the best known HABs in the nation occurs nearly every summer along Florida’s Gulf Coast. Red tides have been documented along Florida’s gulf coast since the 1840’s.
This bloom, like many HABs, is caused by microscopic algae that produce toxins that kill fish and make shellfish dangerous to eat. The toxins may also make the surrounding air difficult to breathe. As the name suggests, the bloom of algae often turns the water red.