Red tide detected at multiple Sarasota County beaches following Hurricane Ian

The water Hurricane Ian dumped on the state three weeks ago drained into the Gulf with the ingredients to trigger a harmful algal bloom. Now, signs are posted at multiple beaches in Sarasota County warning beach goers red tide is present.

The choppy surf and murky water did not stop people from enjoying the evening at Nokomis Beach.

"We've been out since Sunday and swimming every day," said Brad Skatter, a beach goer.  "We haven't had any issues that I’m aware of."

MORE: Florida sees rise in flesh-eating bacteria after Hurricane Ian

The Department of Health in Sarasota County issued an alert Wednesday about elevated counts of red tide detected in water samples. Signs are now posted at eight local beaches warning folks the toxic algae bloom is present:

  1. Turtle Beach
  2. Nokomis Beach
  3. North Jetty
  4. Venice Beach
  5. Service Club Park
  6. Venice Fishing Pier
  7. Brohard Beach
  8. Caspersen Beach

"We were kind of wondering whether or not we were going to get a red tide," shared Dr. David Tomasko, Director of Sarasota Bay Estuary Program.

He believes Hurricane Ian and the nutrient load draining into our near-shore waters triggered this bloom.

"The wind knocks a bunch of vegetation off of trees and then, you know, that vegetation can decompose and that can kind of create problems because that's a nutrient load that goes out in our rivers," Tomasko said.

READ: Sanibel Causeway reopens to residents ahead of schedule after emergency repairs following Hurricane Ian

So far, the concentrations detected are low and very low, meaning beach goers could have mild respiratory irritation to the eyes, nose and throat.

"Most people won't even notice that," said Tomasko. "When you get to those higher moderate categories that some people become affected by it."

Red tide blooms produce toxins that kill marine life. Thankfully, there have been no reports of dead fish recently.

Experts said the big unknown is what happens next – does the red tide get worse, or do the winds push the organisms away from our coastline?

"Our wind has an awful lot to do with it, but so does our nutrient loads and our nutrient loads just we're sky-high just a few weeks ago," Tomasko said.

PREVIOUS: Full repairs to Sarasota County schools could take months

The Department of Health said you should not swim around dead fish, and if you have respiratory problems or symptoms from the bloom officials recommend staying away from the beaches with red tide.