Red tide reported in Sarasota and Manatee Counties

Recent reports of respiratory issues in the area have been linked to red tide, a harmful algal bloom. Researchers at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) are currently monitoring two red tide blooms in Florida’s Gulf Coast in the northwest and southwest region. Water samples collected on Oct. 26 along the shore in Pinellas County tested positive for red tide in two areas, while patchy blooms of algae were found in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, Pinellas and Lee counties. Mote Marine Laboratory said in a press release that satellite images suggest a small patch of red tide along the coastlines of Manatee and Sarasota counties.

“We confirmed the presence of both blooms in September, and they have persisted since that time,” FWC research scientist Alina Corcoran told Naples Daily News. State wildlife officials noted the bloom off southwest Florida is less problematic than the one off the Panhandle, where reports of fish poisoning and respiratory irritations are more numerous.

Red Tide is a harmful algal bloom (HAB) that can produce toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish and marine mammals. This stems from microscopic algae that grow too large and therefore pose risks to sea creatures and humans who eat contaminated seafood. Neurotoxic shellfish poisons are naturally occurring toxins excreted by microscopic algae. When shellfish are contaminated with these toxins they can cause neurotoxic shellfish poisoning in humans. Symptoms include abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, sensations like tingling, pricking or burning, lack of muscle control or paralysis, muscle pain, and in severe cases, a decrease in heart rate.

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