PASS-A-GRILLE, Fla. - Red tide is a major concern for those living on Florida’s West Coast and now the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has detected low to medium levels of red tide algae off Pinellas County -- from Indian Rocks Beach all the way down to Fort De Soto.
With summer around the corner, business owners are concerned about what red tide will mean for them.
The current levels showing up on water tests are not significant enough to be noticed by beachgoers, FWC says, and everyone hopes it stays that way.
FWC’s red tide detection maps show orange dots where the algae have been found. Many of the dots appear near a wastewater release from the old Piney Point fertilizer plant.
"The more orange medium-level dots are a little bit concerning, it’s indicating an intensification of the red tide that has been lingering in our region since late April," explained Sherwood, Tampa Bay Estuary Program’s executive director.
Sherwood says they've been testing the water quality in the bay every two weeks since the Piney Point dump in April.
"Now we’re seeing this intensification of a harmful algae bloom red tide species, so that cycling of nutrients to the bay’s ecology and phytoplankton is what we’re continuing to track," Sherwood said.
The FWC says there have been fish kills along the Pinellas County coastline.
"We were out Monday actually sampling around the Sunshine Skyway and we saw floating fish. And whether or not it’s because of the red tide that’s in the water or if it’s the algal blooms that are causing low dissolved oxygen conditions, is still unknown at this point until they start taking more samples," said Sherwood.
For now, beaches are open for people to enjoy.
Sherwood says before heading to the beach, check out the red tide conditions online.
"Because red tide is very patchy in nature there might be some areas that are safe to recreate, you just want to look at the respiratory forecast for our area to see if there’s any possibility for respiratory irritation related to the red tide blooms that are along our coast now," Sherwood said.
Scientists say medium levels of it look like shadows in the water and swimmers may feel an itch in their throat when they breathe.
When it gets to a higher level, the blooms will be more of a reddish-brown color and look like the algae blooms from back in 2018.
LINK: Check conditions at Bay Area beaches at https://www.visitstpeteclearwater.com/current-beach-conditions