Nowhere in Florida have signs of the toxic red tide algae turned up.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission posts the latest, eight days of water sampling on its website myfwc.com. Its interactive map showed all water samples around the state as free of any algae cell concentrations. The state’s weekly report Friday confirmed that red tide cells were “not present” in water samples.
That’s good news — very good news.
Late summer and early fall are when the red tide — Karina brevis — blooms, grows and gathers momentum. Natural to the Gulf, the algae is most commonly found in waters between Tampa south to Sanibel. However, red tide has impacted all of Florida from the Panhandle to the East Coast.
Some blooms last three to five months and affect hundreds of square miles, but they can continue sporadically for as long as 18 months, affecting thousands of square miles.
Scientists with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are studying the red tide bloom that strangled Southwest Florida from October 2017 to January 2019.
They want to talk to people in the marine industry who were impacted. A previous study of three red tide blooms in the 1970s and 1980s determined each of the three blooms caused financial losses between $15 million and $25 million.
Research has determined red tide algae initially grows in nutrient-poor water 11 to 46 miles offshore in the Gulf.
Researchers deem the background presence of red tide as levels of 1,000 cells or less per liter of water. Very low counts are more than 1,000 cells to fewer than 5,000 cells per liter. If the algae toxins exceed 100,000 cells or more of the algae concentrated in a liter of water, fish and other marine life can die due to its toxins Higher concentrations lead to respiratory and other ailments in humans.
Winds and currents drive the red tide inshore where waters are higher in nutrients and the cells multiply quickly. Currents and other factors can concentrate the bloom. The dissipation of a red tide also depends on winds, currents and other factors.
To learn more about red tide, visit myfwc.com.