Red tide drifting up Gulf Coast

- On Caspersen Beach, Robert and Janette Fellers kept their eyes glued to the sand Tuesday.  The couple from Tennessee was on a shark's tooth hunt. 

"Sometimes you find one. Sometimes you find 3 or 4 in two minutes," said Robert. 

"I have several in the room that I found," offered Janette. 

But as they walked the beach, Janette kept a tissue near. 

"I have to keep it ready," she said. 

The couple battled back watery eyes and a few coughs.  Scientists say that's due to red tide lingering just off the coast. 

"Pretty soon after I walked up on the beach, I started coughing bad," said Robert. 

Scientists with Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium said a strong concentrations of red tide appeared around November in Lee County. Over the last few weeks, they've noticed it's started spreading north into Sarasota, Manatee and parts of Pinellas counties.

"It's difficult to say what will happen with this bloom. We did get some weather that might dissipate it some. That didn't happen," said Mote Marine’s Dr. Vincent Lovko. 

So far there have been few dead fish reported on beaches in Venice and Nokomis, but Dr. Lovko said that could soon change. 

"We do have offshore winds, which will hopefully keep it offshore, but the winds are supposed to change and we may see it more this week," he said. 

As Dr. Lovko continues keeping a watch over the bloom and its movement, he warns people with respiratory problems to be careful. 

"Typically, you leave the beach that is affected and your symptoms will go away within a day. However, if you do have asthma or some other health issues like that, it could trigger effects that could last for a week," he warned. 

For more information on red tide and where blooms may appear, visit: https://mote.org/research/program/environmental-health/beach-conditions-report-red-tide-information

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