Unlike Gulf coastal waters, most of Charlotte Harbor has been spared from the toxic red tide algae.

No water samples, like those collected at Punta Gorda’s Ponce de Leon Park, in Charlotte Harbor have been contaminated with red tide cells, Charlotte County spokesman Brian Gleason said Friday. The Peace River, which empties fresh water into the harbor, has been at flood stage, Gleason said, noting that the red tide algae, Karenia brevis, needs some salinity to survive.

While red tide algae is naturally occurring with background counts of 1,000 cells or less concentrations per liter of water, concentrations of 100,000 or more cells per liter can result in fish kills and lead to respiratory irritations in humans. High concentrations, a million cells or more, can discolor Gulf waters a reddish brown.

But while Charlotte Harbor is cleansed of any red tide stain, other coastal waters aren’t so lucky, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports.

On Wednesday, the FWC reported water samples collected water samples near shore and offshore from Sarasota, Charlotte and Lee counties with high counts of red tide. Various fish kills were reported up and down the coast.

By Friday, the FWC reported medium to high concentrations in Charlotte County. High counts were in water samples taken Englewood Beach Tuesday and moderate counts in water samples taken Wednesday. Sarasota County saw low background to high counts. High counts turned up in water samples at the Manasota and Blind Pass public beaches Monday.

Working with the University of South Florida, the FWC posts three-day computer models predicts Southwest Florida’s coastline from Pinellas to Lee County will continue to see red tide blooms that have plagued the coastal waters since November.

Mote Marine Laboratory beach daily condition reports on visitbeaches.org also cautioned that red tide was present on Siesta Key, Venice and other Sarasota County public beaches Friday. Conditions were “intense” on Manasota Key Thursday and then dropped to “moderate” on Friday morning.

For more information, visit myfwc.com.


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