VENICE BEACH - The scent of dead fish has been rising along the Intracoastal Waterway and area beaches as red tide has started choking Venice-area beaches.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported Wednesday the organism, Karenia brevis, has expanded its bloom along Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties, according to a news release.
While it has flowed in and out of the region from as far north as Pinellas County and down to Collier County, it has been sporadically grown into "high concentrations" in Sarasota County.
"In Southwest Florida over the past week, fish kill reports were received for Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties," the news release states.
The abundance was deemed "high" in a sample collected off Venice Beach on Monday along with another sample at Caspersen Beach. It was found to be "medium" at the same time along Nokomis Beach and at Service Club Park near Venice Municipal Airport.
An earlier sample off shore near the South Jetty found medium concentrations last week.
The toxins can kill fish and cause respiratory irritation for people near the beaches.
Many blooms of Florida red tide begin in the late summer and fall — August, September, October, Mote Marine spokeswoman Stephannie Kettle said in a Sun story Monday.
“So it is not unusual that elevated cell counts of Florida red tide began around this time of year,” Kettle said.
Red tide is an algae native to the Gulf of Mexico, with blooms typically forming in the Gulf 10 to 40 miles offshore before moving near shore. Generally, concentrations of red tide blooms between Clearwater and Sanibel, but a bloom can occur anywhere in the Gulf.
- Staff Writer Steve Reilly contributed to the story.