Red tide algae is present in Gulf waters, but for the most part its impacts have been minimal.
However, a water sample taken from the public beach Siesta Key on Monday showed a medium concentration — 100,000 to 1 million cells per liter of water — the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported.
Wildlife officials also reported Wednesday a small fish kill of less than a dozen washed up onto the public Siesta Key Beach. Red tide toxins can kill marine life.
That’s the third fish kill this year due to red tide in either Sarasota or Charlotte counties that were reported to the state wildlife agency.
On March 2, a fish kill was reported at Stump Pass. A second occurred April 1 at the mouth of the Myakka River in Charlotte Harbor.
Over the last eight days, water samples taken from the North Jetty Beach in Nokomis to Siesta Key have tested for low concentrations — 10,000 to 100,000 cells per liter of water — or very low concentrations.
Manasota Key appears free of red tide from recent water samples, but high concentrations — more than 1 million cells per liter of water — turned up in a water sample taken at the mouth of the Peace River in Charlotte Harbor. Other water samples contained only natural, background counts of red tide, less than 1,000 per liter of water.
What to expect today
The website habforecast.gcoos.org and its interactive map attempts to predict the effects of red tide on beachgoers.
Today, with the winds coming out of the west-southwest, beachgoers from Nokomis north to Lido Beach have a low chance of feeling the impact from airborne red tide toxins.
The website, however, cautions that on Siesta Key there will be a moderate chance of experiencing coughing, respiratory irritations and other impacts from red tide.
When the concentrations of red tide blooms exceed 100,000 cells per liter of water, humans can experience scratchy throats, coughing, respiratory and other ailments triggered by the toxins. Higher concentrations can kill fish and other marine life.
South of Nokomis to Lighthouse Beach on Sanibel, the chances are “very low” that the presence of red tide will rear its head.
Mote Marine Laboratory has also been posting generally positive reports on its daily visitbeaches.org.
With the exception of Siesta Key, where “slight” respiratory irritations were felt, no one else Thursday morning on local beaches reported any signs of discomfort from red tide.
To learn more about red tide, visit myfwc.com.