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Red tide is drifting north and is now at the mouth of Tampa Bay

Map of red tide
karen.atwood
/
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Map of red tide

High concentrations of the organism that causes red tide has been found in Southwest Florida since Hurricane Ian made landfall. Now, it's slowly moving north.

Red tide is drifting north along the Gulf coast from Southwest Florida and is now being found at the mouth of Tampa Bay.

Red tide, which has been found off the coast of Manatee and Sarasota counties, is inching north. Water samples taken this week by state environmental officials show very low concentrations of the organism that causes red tide was detected along the Sunshine Skyway and the northern tip of Anna Maria Island, where Tampa Bay meets the Gulf of Mexico.

Medium to high concentrations were found along every beach in southern Manatee and Sarasota counties. State officials had issued a health advisory warning last week for all beaches in Sarasota, warning people about respiratory irritation and dead fish.

This week, that warning was extended to beaches in Manatee County, including Bayfront Park, Coquina Beach South, Longboat Pass/Coquina Boat Ramp and the Rod and Reel Pier on Anna Maria Island.

High concentrations have been found south of Sarasota since Hurricane Ian struck in September.

People with respiratory problems should stay away from the water. Residents living along the beach should close their windows and run air conditioning.

Here's some tips from the Florida Department of Health:

  • Look for informational signage posted at most beaches.
  • Stay away from the water.
  • Do not swim in waters with dead fish.
  • Those with chronic respiratory problems should be especially cautious and stay away from these locations as red tide can affect your breathing.
  • Do not harvest or eat molluscan shellfish or distressed or dead fish from these locations. If caught live and healthy, finfish are safe to eat as long as they are filleted and the guts are discarded. Rinse fillets with tap or bottled water.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and fresh water if you have had recent contact with red tide.
  • Keep pets and livestock away and out of the water, sea foam and dead sea life. If your pet swims in waters with red tide, wash your pet as soon as possible.
  • Residents living in beach areas are advised to close windows and run the air conditioner, making sure that the A/C filter is maintained according to manufacturer's specifications.
  • If outdoors near an affected location, residents may choose to wear masks, especially if onshore winds are blowing.
Map of red tide concentrations
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
/
Map of red tide concentrations

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