Red tide forecast: Little movement over next few days

Red tide issues continue along the Southwest Florida coast. Water samples are collected and studied weekly by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), and the latest samples show high concentrations of the red tide organism, Karenia brevis, present from Anna Maria Island southward.

The two main factors in determining how the bloom will spread and move are winds and currents. Through the weekend and into next week, a prevailing west wind will keep the bloom close to the beach, meaning that most areas already dealing with the effects of red tide are unlikely to see any relief over the next three to five days.

In addition, and perhaps more significant, is the use of ocean current modeling to determine how the bloom will move over time. The Collaboration for Prediction of Red Tides at the University of South Florida does exactly this by providing a daily tracking tool that uploads water sample findings from the FWC into the West Florida Coastal Ocean Model. The current output strongly suggests a southward forecast trajectory for the bloom through the weekend.

So, while most areas already dealing with red tide impacts will see very little, if any, improvement over the next few days, it seems safe to say that Pinellas County and areas further north are in the clear -- for now -- according to those results.

Red tide is an algae bloom that depletes oxygen in the water. The bloom has been present in southern Sarasota County for the last 10 months.  It's caused a headache for beachgoers in Venice, Manasota and Charlotte counties, and killed marine life along the coast.

LINK: Red tide FAQ: What is it, and where does it come from?

Thursday, police recovered a ninth deceased dolphin off the coast of Venice.

For the latest red tide testing results, visit or check the conditions of our area by visiting