Red tide returns to Sarasota beaches

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Red tide has returned to the south end of Sarasota County, but scientists say it appears to not be as strong as it has been in the past.

The red tide bloom has been in the Gulf of Mexico since October of 2017. High cell concentrations of red tide have once again surfaced, as winds have moved back on shore.

This week, there more signs that red tide is back with reports of respiratory issues off Manasota Key and in the Venice area.

But while the bloom is still present off the coast, scientists with Mote Marine Laboratory say it is not as large as it once was, and that is good news for the area.

“Although we have seen an increase in cell concentrations, the respiratory irritation was only reported at one beach,” said Dr. Tracy Fanara. “Two days ago I did have reports of respiratory irritation at four beaches, but looking at the satellite imagery, we are not seeing the really big dark patches offshore. So hopefully as this continues, we are seeing the beginning of the end. However, we can never say that for sure.”  

Fanara says cold weather can help, but it must lower the water temperature to about 60 degrees to cause any stress on the red tide cells. Just because the air temperature is below 60 does not mean it will make the red tide disappear.

While the cooler temperatures are a good sign, scientists stress there are no promises it will make the red tide bloom go away.