ENGLEWOOD — Señor Smooth has returned to Englewood Beach.
So have the sun-and-fun seekers, filling the public beach parking lot by noon Wednesday.
Since June, due to the persistent red tide blooms, the smoothie concession stand remained closed. Señor Smooth manager Kateri Clemons, who is also a substitute teacher in Charlotte County, reopened the stand Wednesday morning and was glad to be back mixing fresh fruit smoothies for beachgoers.
“I know it’s still there,” Clemons said of the toxic red tide algae. “I’m trying to be optimistic. I’m just happy to be back.”
She is wise to be cautiously optimistic. Charlotte County is also wise to keep up its signs at the public beach warning of the potential presence of red tide.
For more than a week, Englewood and Manasota Key have enjoyed relatively clear days from the airborne toxins from the algae, dead fish and dark waters. When red tide algae cell counts increase to more than 100,000 per liter of water, humans can suffer respiratory and other ailments and killed fish, sea turtles, dolphins and other marine mammals start washing ashore.
Southwest Florida — from Pinellas County south to Collier County — have experienced periodic red tide blooms in the Gulf since researchers starting detected intensifying blooms in October 2017.
Since last weekend, counts have been low. But that could change.
“Red tide blooms are patchy and the concentrations are very dependent on wind directions and ocean currents,” said Michelle Kerr, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesperson. A strong, offshore northeast wind blew Wednesday morning. Westerly, onshore winds tend to blow red tide closer to shorelines.
State researchers are not prepared to say the blooms are finally dissipating. High concentrations are still lingering offshore south of Englewood, Kerr cautioned. The FWC reported Wednesday that increased red tide counts were some water samples from Sarasota and Charlotte counties.
The Wildlife Commission posts the results of the most recent red tide water samples on myfwc.com. As late as two weeks ago, high concentrations — a million or more cells per liter of water — were detected in Lemon Bay, Stump Pass, the southern tip of the Cape Haze peninsula and Boca Grande.
Normally, the Wildlife Commission posts new red tide reports Wednesdays and Fridays. But with the Thanksgiving holiday, no report will be posted today.
According Mote Marine Laboratory’s Daily Beach Conditions Report at visitbeaches.org, people at Siesta Key in Sarasota and North Jetty in Nokomis experienced some respiratory irritations and a few fish washing ashore Tuesday morning.
Venice and Manasota beaches received an all-clear report from Mote Tuesday.
To learn more about red tide, visit myfwc.com.