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Red Tide found at all 16 Sarasota County beaches

Red tide map
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Map of red tide

The organism that causes red tide has also been found at Anna Maria Island and Longboat Pass in Manatee County.

Tropical Storm Nicole may have stirred up the Gulf of Mexico enough to send red tide onto beaches in Sarasota County.

The state Department of Health said elevated levels of the toxin have been found at all 16 beaches in the county. Medium levels have also been reported in Manatee County, at Anna Maria Island and Longboat Pass. Health officials recommend that anyone experiencing irritation of the eye, nose or throat to stay indoors, run your air conditioner and avoid the beach.

Red tide is is caused when algae grows out of control. The name “red tide” comes from the fact that overgrown algae can cause the water to change color.

The beaches with elevated levels of red tide include: Longboat Key, Bird Key Park/Ringling Causeway, North Lido, Lido Casino, South Lido, Siesta Key, Turtle Beach, Nokomis Beach, North Jetty, Venice Beach, Service Club, Venice Fishing Pier, Brohard Beach, Caspersen Beach, Manasota Key and Blind Pass.

The Department makes the following recommendations:

  • 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 winds are blowing onshore.

Florida Poison Control Centers have a toll-free 24/7 Hotline for reporting illnesses, including health effects from exposure to red tide at 1-888-222-1222.

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