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Red Tide Found Off Manatee County

Stephen Splane / WUSF Public Media
In 2018 a massive red tide bloom caused fish kills in St. Pete Beach.

Residents living in beach areas are advised to close their windows and run the air conditioner.

A red tide bloom has been discovered off the coast of Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island. Conditions for the blooms are creeping northward along the Gulf coast.

Samples collected by state biologists found low levels of the organism causing red tide. Although no fish kills have been reported yet, fish have been reported floating in areas further south in Manatee, Sarasota, Lee and Collier counties.

The Manatee County Health Department issued a warning, urging people with respiratory issues to stay away from beach areas along the coastlines. People may encounter cold-like symptoms such as eye, nose and throat irritations. Residents living in beach areas are advised to close their windows and run the air conditioner.

And if you have any leftover masks handy, officials say they may filter out some of the airborne particles.

Swimmers are also advised to stay away from dead fish, and not to eat shellfish or fin fish from these areas.

Florida Poison Control Centers have a toll-free 24/7 hotline for reporting of illnesses, including health effects from exposure to red tide, at 1-888-232-8635.

For additional information on the locations where red tide has been found, visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research website.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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