ENGLEWOOD — The Gulf of Mexico may be offering a little yuletide cheer.
No Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission water samples in the last eight days showed any signs of toxic red tide algae anywhere in local waters.
The algae itself is natural to the Gulf in background concentrations less than 1,000 cells per water liter. While Charlotte and Sarasota counties saw only background concentrations or no sign of red tide in its water sampling, the FWC did report Friday low concentrations have shown up in some water samples from Lee County.
Samples turned up background to low concentrations, less than 100,000 cells per liter, in Collier County, and medium concentrations of red tide offshore farther south around Monroe County.
According to information posted on myfwc.com, the only water sample in Florida taken Wednesday showed medium concentrations of red tide — 100,000 to a million cells per liter of water. The sample was taken more than nine miles offshore from Pavilion Key in Everglades National Park.
Throughout 2018, Southwest Florida endured relentless red tide blooms of a million or more cells per water liter, hundreds of dead fish and other marine life washing onto shore, sea turtles and marine mammals sick or dying, coughing, respiratory and other ailments in humans. Financially, the local tourism industry, restaurants, fishing guides and other businesses suffered from the persistence of red tide.
By December 2018, water samples taken in Lee and Sarasota counties, turning up with low counts — 10,000 but less than 100,000 cells per liter of water — were deemed as a hopeful sign that the persistent blooms were waning. myfwc.com.