ENGLEWOOD — If the most-recent water samples are to be believed, Sarasota and Charlotte counties turned up the only — hopefully the last — significant signs of the toxic red tide algae in Florida.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission posts on myfwc.com a map of where water samples were taken and whether red tide turned up in the samples over the last eight days. The map is updated daily at 5 p.m.
Water samples taken from Englewood Beach and the Boca Grande fishing pier on Gasparilla Island showed medium concentrations, 100,000 cells per liter of water. Concentrations of 100,000 or more cells can lead to respiratory problems and other ailments in humans. The toxic algae can kill fish and other marine life when concentrations intensify.
The rest of the samples showed only natural background counts, 1,000 or fewer cells per liter, from Pensacola in the Panhandle to Seminole County on Florida’s East Coast.
Mote Marine Laboratory’s daily beach conditions on visitbeaches.org reported Wednesday people reporting slight respiratory irritations at beaches on Manasota Key in Englewood and Casey Key in Nokomis. The only other anomalies were three water samples with low counts, more than a 1,000 cells per liter, taken in Collier County and off of Sawyer Key in Monroe County.
Since FWC first reported in November 2017 red tide blooms emerging in the Gulf, the state, particularly Southwest Florida from Pinellas south to Collier County.The tide swept around the state and up Florida’s East Coast. Blooms also appeared in Florida’s Panhandle.
The blooms proved particularly intense during the summer months when counts exceeded more than a million, stained Gulf waters a reddish brown and led to the deaths of goliath groupers and large tarpons, sea turtles, dolphins and other marine mammals.