ENGLEWOOD — Under a grey overcast sky and with a light, but steady, breeze from the east, Manasota Key’s public beaches enjoyed Monday morning free of the telltale signs of the toxic red tide algae.
Only fresh tangles of red seaweed washed ashore onto Manasota Key Monday morning. Later that day, due to a change of the wind direction, some detected the faint smell of red tide in the air. But even that’s a relief from the weekend.
From Venice south, according to various reports started coming in Friday and over the weekend that public beaches, primarily on Manasota Key and South Sarasota County, stank from the airborne red tide toxins and with dead fish washing ashore.
“At sunset tonight there were 264 dead fish, counting from the northern post to the southern one (at Manasota Beach),” Jean Kathleen Ranallo told the Sun in an email Friday.
From Nokomis south to Manasota Key, Mote Marine Laboratory at visitbeaches.org also reported Friday how people suffered slight to moderate coughing and other respiratory ailments, signs of the airborne toxins. A few beaches saw dead fish washing ashore.
By Sunday, Ranallo updated the Sun with good news.
“Shortly after high tide the sunrise swim was swell,” she said. “Since it had clouded over, an afternoon swim shortly after low tide was as pleasant.”
Late Monday afternoon, Mote heard reports of slight respiratory irritations on Manasota and Nokomis beaches, lighter than what it previously had reported.
Many blooms of Florida red tide begin in the late summer and fall — August, September, October, Mote Marine spokeswoman Stephannie Kettle said.
“So it is not unusual that elevated cell counts of Florida red tide began around this time of year,” Kettle said.
The red tide algae, Karenia brevis, is a native species of algae to the Gulf of Mexico, with blooms typically forming in the Gulf 10 to 40 miles offshore before moving near shore. Generally, concentrations of red tide blooms between Clearwater and Sanibel, but a bloom can occur anywhere in the Gulf.