Red tide returns to Sarasota County beaches

Researchers in Sarasota are working to see if hurricanes had an impact on the return of red tide to the county's beaches. They believe the current bloom was present a month ago, but it will take time to tell if there are any correlations. 

"It sorts of hit you, it makes you start coughing," said Phyllis Brubaker.

While searching for sharks teeth in Venice, Phyllis Brubaker wears a mask to stop her from coughing.

"You sit here and you cough and sneeze," she said.

The sounds of coughs has become a familiar sound on Caspersen and Venice Beach. Red tide levels fluctuate from low to high counts in the area.

"We did expect it and sure enough it arrived on schedule about a month ago," said Dr.Cynthia Heil.

Red tide in October is common. Doctor Cynthia Heil the Director of Mote Marine's Red Tide Institute said historically blooms start in the fall and can last two to seven months. It all depends on what's feeding the bloom.

"We are still investigating what the role of Ian was because that was a pretty significant nutrient input to the coast. We do know the winds of Ian contributed to this red tide. It mixed up the water column enough to bring up a population of red shore to the coast of Venice. We do know ian was indirectly responsible for the red tide, but that was a wind related issue," said Dr.Heil.

On Siesta Key, winds kept red tide at bay in the morning. At Venice Beach, dead fish could be seen every few feet.

Red tide is currently present from Charlotte to Sarasota and Manatee counties. Researchers are working on and offshore to learn more about this bloom and the potential impacts it could carry.

"From a practical basis. Yes we do have red tide and we do know that these near shore sources are one of the nutrient sources that support the red tide. Yes it is contributing to the bloom, but we don’t know the extent," said Dr.Heil.

To view conditions, visit or the FWC Red tide status site at