Earlier this week, sea turtle volunteers could taste the slight scent of red tide in the air.
By Thursday, the signs of red tide had subsided on Manasota Key.
“It’s more toward Venice,” said Zoe Bass, one of the primary permit holders overseeing Coastal Wildlife Club volunteers.
Sarasota County health officials issued cautionary warnings that red tide was present in Gulf waters Tuesday.
Water samples — collected for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission — collected Monday from Manasota Beach contained medium concentrations, 100,000 to a million cells per liter of water. Another sample take from Blind Pass Beach turned up low concentrations of red tide.
At the same time, water samples with medium concentrations were collected from Venice Fishing Pier to Nokomis. The farther north you go up the Gulf Coast, the more intense red tide, Karina brevis, becomes.
Red tide is turning up in concentrations of more than a million cells per liter of water from Longboat Key north to Tampa Bay and beyond. That’s a high level, according to scientists.
Reports suggest that Pinellas County has seen more than 600 tons of dead fish and marine life washed ashore. Numerous water samples from Tampa Bay have been scarlet with red tide cells.
Red tide blooms appear to be drifting north on currents along the Gulf Coast.
Water samples taken from Clearwater contained medium concentrations of red tide. It’s also turning up in the Gulf offshore from Tarpon Springs and Pasco County.
The red tide algae is natural to the Gulf in concentrations less than 1,000 cells per liter of water. However, in stronger 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 it can kill marine life, including fish, sea turtles and marine mammals.
To learn more about red tide, visit myfwc.com.