Red tide

Beaches in Charlotte and Sarasota counties have been clear of red tide this week. Samples taken in Tampa Bay and in Lee and Collier counties show some traces of the algae.

Charlotte and Sarasota beaches are the best bet for beachgoers this weekend.

The coastlines of the two counties appear free of concentrations of the toxic red tide algae this week, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on Thursday.

The state agency collected samples this week, and none show the presence of red tide in the Gulf of Mexico. Lemon Bay is also clear of the algae.

Charlotte Harbor, which saw several weeks of medium concentrations, seems to have cleared up as well. Only one water sample near Punta Gorda turned up low concentration, 10,000 to 100,000 cells per liter of water.

The south shore of mouth of Tampa Bay in Manatee County is seeing stronger concentrations of red tide. State officials are taking samples in the area affected by the Piney Point gypsum stack spill in April. The waters in Lee and Collier counties to the south, especially around Sanibel Island, appear to have low and medium concentrations of the algae.

In high concentrations, the red tide algae, Karenia brevis, releases toxic gases that can cause respiratory irritation, coughing, tearing eyes and scratchy throats, for people and animals on the shore, and can kill marine life, including fish, reptiles and mammals.

To learn more about red tide and for updated maps, visit myfwc.com.

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