ENGLEWOOD — These days are good days to spend at local beaches.
But that doesn’t mean beachgoers, especially those with respiratory or other health ailments, can throw caution to the wind.
Red tide algae is lying offshore in Gulf waters.
According to water samples collected for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the toxic red tide algae appears to be concentrating in the Gulf of Sarasota and Charlotte counties, and in the passes and bays.
Wildlife officials post at myfwc.com the results of water samples taken in the last eight days.
A week ago, low concentrations — 10,000 to 100,000 cells per liter of water — were found in water samples from Turtle Beach on Siesta Key in Sarasota, south to Gasparilla Sound near Boca Grande.
The red tide algae, Karina brevis, is natural to the Gulf of Mexico in concentrations of fewer than 1,000 cells per liter of water.
But if 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.
Wave action and winds can break up the algae cells and release airborne toxins.
One water sample last week, taken from the middle of Charlotte Harbor, near the Ponce de Leon Inlet in Punta Gorda, saw an intense concentration of red tide, more than 1 million cells per liter of water.
Interestingly, red tide concentrations completely subsided last week to the south in Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass in Lee County. Both places had been Petri dishes for low and medium concentrations of red tide since January and throughout March.
No need to panic
Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota posts its daily beach conditions on visitbeaches.org. All’s well, according to Mote’s most recent reports.
The good news Monday was that no one reported anyone suffering from respiratory ailments nor dead fish washing up on beaches in Sarasota and other area beaches.
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 reports Monday cautioned that there’s a “very low chance” of suffering respiratory or other ailments today during the morning hours.
However, as today progresses into the afternoon, the chances of detecting the presence of red tide on Venice Service Park Beach, Blind Pass, Stump Pass and Gasparilla Pass. An exception is Nokomis Beach where “moderate intensity” of red tide is expected.
Other local beaches are expected to remain as “very low” chances of red tide affecting beach goers.
To learn more about red tide, visit myfwc.com.
n Southwest Florida over the past week, K. brevis was observed at background to medium concentrations in and offshore of Sarasota County (in 31 samples), very low to high concentrations in Charlotte County (in 4 samples), background to very low concentrations in and offshore of Lee County (in 12 samples) and background to medium concentrations in Collier County (in 6 samples). Samples from or offshore of Pinellas, Hillsborough, and Manatee counties did not contain red tide.