The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County (DOH-Sarasota) is once again notifying the public that elevated levels of red tide have been detected at area beaches, including Venice Beach, Service Club Park, Venice Fishing Pier, Brohard Beach, and Caspersen Beach, Manasota Key, and Blind Pass. DOH-Sarasota will be posting signage at several beaches to advise the public that red tide is present.
Some people may have mild and short-lived respiratory symptoms such as eye, nose, and throat irritation like those associated with the common cold or seasonal sinus allergies. Some individuals with existing breathing problems, such as asthma, might experience more severe effects. Usually, symptoms stop when a person leaves the beach or goes indoors. Health officials recommend that people who are sensitive to red tide or experiencing symptoms avoid the beach or go into an air-conditioned space.
If symptoms don't subside, contact your healthcare provider for evaluation.
Since Hurricane Ian made landfall at the end of September, scientists have been concerned that the massive amount of water the hurricane dumped onto the state makes its way out toward the coast is carrying the ingredients for a severe harmful algal bloom, like red tide. The last red tide advisory was issued in October; it was lifted after a few days.
However, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission confirmed last week that red tide had reached bloom levels in an offshore area that spans from south Sarasota County to Sanibel.
If you are out on the beach during the advisory, do not swim around dead fish and do not harvest or eat molluscan shellfish and distressed or dead fish. If fish are healthy, rinse fillets with tap or bottled water and throw out the guts. Keep pets and livestock away from water, sea foam, and dead sea life.
Residents living in beach areas who experience respiratory symptoms are advised to close windows and run the air conditioner. If outdoors, residents may choose to wear paper filter masks, especially if onshore winds are blowing.
Take the following precautions when dealing with red tide:
- Do not swim around dead fish.
- If you have chronic respiratory problems, consider staying away from the beach as red tide can affect your breathing.
- Do not harvest or eat molluscan shellfish and distressed or dead fish. If fish are healthy, rinse fillets with tap or bottled water and throw out the guts.
- Keep pets and livestock away from water, sea foam, and dead sea life.
- Residents living in beach areas who experience respiratory symptoms are advised to close windows and run the air conditioner (ensuring that the A/C filter is maintained according to the manufacturer’s specifications).
- If outdoors, residents may choose to wear paper filter masks, especially if onshore winds are blowing.
For more information about red tide, visit the following websites:
- DOH Sarasota weekly sample results are posted here
- FWC is doing twice weekly updates on red tide for the state here, including a sampling map that is updated daily.
- Current beach conditions can be checked at Mote Marine’s website,
- NOAA provides a Gulf of Mexico HAB forecast (updated twice weekly while a bloom persists) that can be found here
- Florida Poison Control Centers have a toll-free 24/7 Hotline for reporting illnesses, including health effects from exposure to red tide, available at (888) 232-8635.