Red tide blooms early along southern Bay Area beaches

- Before you even see it, you can feel the nasty side effects of red tide. 

"You feel a little bit of tingle in your throat," said George Mass. 

It's already a problem that stretches from Manasota Beach to Venice, Nokomis, Siesta, Lido, Coquina and Manatee Beaches.

On Siesta Key, visitors pick their spots wisely. 

"We try to move up to the section where there's a little less of it," said Dave Waldman. 

Dead fish and eels are piled up in certain areas. The smell is what you expect. 

While people try to enjoy the beach, scientists at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium keep a close eye on the bloom. 

"We are watching for how intense it gets, how far it spreads from one end to the other, and how long it will be here. It's really difficult to depict," said Dr. Richard Pierce. 

Dr. Pierce is the associate vice president for research and senior scientist at Mote Marine. He said the bloom is earlier than usual, but not out of the ordinary. 

He reminds people with respiratory problems to stay away from areas with red tide and people should also be careful when bringing pets to the beach. 

"The toxins get brought up to the surface with crashing waves," Dr. Pierce said. "The foam is concentrated in these neurotoxins. They're very potent neurotoxins. The foam along the beach can be quite harmful. You shouldn't let dogs lick the foam or walk along the foam." 

Those toxins get into the air, too, causing respiratory problems for people with asthma and other conditions. 

While more people are coughing, the red tide doesn't seem to keep them away from anything that resembles a piece of paradise; dead fish or not. 

"We are only down here for a week, right at the moment, so we wanted to come out and enjoy it," said Waldman. 

If you encounter a red tide bloom or fish kill you are asked to report it to Mote Marine or the FWC. 

Back in 2013, 200 manatees died in Southwest Florida because of red tide.

To report fish kills, contact the FWC Fish Kill Hotline at 800-636-0511 or submit a report online.

FWC's statewide red tide status reports are typically updated every Friday afternoon.

Based on statewide results, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides forecasts of potential respiratory irritation.

Mote's CSIC mobile app allows users to report when and where they experience respiratory irritation or see discolored water or dead fish - all potential indications of Florida red tide.

Mote's Beach Conditions Reporting System provides shoreline observations as often as twice daily.

Below are links to more information about red tide and volunteer opportunities:

-Red tide background information from Mote: www.mote.org/redtide

-Red tide background information from FWC: www.myfwc.com/redtide

-Red tide and human health - information and rack cards from Florida Department of Health: http://www.floridahealth.gov/environmental-health/aquatic-toxins/red-tide.html

-FWC's red tide offshore monitoring program - a way for volunteers to help: http://myfwc.com/research/redtide/monitoring/current/offshore-monitoring/

-FWC-Mote Facebook page, Florida Red Tide and Other Harmful Algal Blooms: http://www.facebook.com/flhabs

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