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Red tide algae cells have been showing up steadily in water samples taken in Charlotte Harbor and in waters near Sarasota in the last few weeks.

CHARLOTTE HARBOR — Red tide algae appears to be settled in Charlotte Harbor — unfortunately.

Meanwhile, marine blue-green algae sauntered along the shoreline of Lido Key near Sarasota Friday.

In Charlotte Harbor, samples collected since Sunday still turn up medium to high counts of toxic Karenia brevis algae, also called red tide, the Florida Fish and Conservation Commission reported Friday.

Concentrations of 100,000 or more cells per liter of water can lead to fish kills, as well as coughing, scratchy throats and other respiratory ailments in humans.

The wildlife commission received reports of fish kills earlier this week, though not as many as last week, at the Punta Gorda Inlet, Gilchrist Park and Burnt Store near Punta Gorda.

Wildlife officials also reported a water sample from Boca Grande Pass in Lee County turned up low concentrations of 10,000 to 100,000 cells per liter of water.

The good news is water samples taken from the Gulf shoreline from Gasparilla Sound in Charlotte County, north to Big Pass in Sarasota Bay turned up no red tide or background counts below 1,000 cells per liter of water.

Also, the interactive map on habforecast.gcoos.org attempts to offer within 24 hours the chances of feeling the effects of red tide at Gulf Beaches. The map is updated every three hours.

The map shows today should be a good day to visit most local beaches and not experience any respiratory irritations due to airborne red tide toxins. The exceptions, however, are Boca Grande and beaches from South Lido north to Ana Maria Island.


Blue meanies

Sarasota County received reports Friday afternoon of algae mats floating along the shoreline of Lido Key.

“The call came in around 1:07 p.m. Mote Marine Laboratory was also called to respond,” Sarasota County Emergency Services media officer Sara Nealeigh reported Friday. “SCFD cleared the scene around 1:39 p.m. No cleanup was required. There were no injuries or transports were reported.”

It was not Karenia brevis, red tide algae.

“It looks to be trichodesmium,” said Stephannie Kettle, Mote Marine Laboratory public relations manager.

Trichodesmium is a marine strain of blue-green algae found worldwide in tropical and subtropical waters. It blooms annually. In Gulf and Southwest Florida, blooms can extend for miles and can be visible from space.

Some strains of trichodesmium do produce toxins, but researchers have not documented any toxic effects from the algae on marine life nor people in Florida.

To learn more about red tide algae and other wildlife, visit myfwc.com.

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