Red tide triggers respiratory warning in Pinellas, Manatee and Sarasota counties

Over the next 36 hours, NOAA officials are forecasting a high risk of respiratory irritation from the red tide at some beaches within three Tampa Bay counties.

At the moment, the advisory ends 6 p.m. Friday and applies to beaches along Manatee, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties.

The advisory reads as follows:

Over the next 36 hours, some beaches may experience a moderate to high risk of respiratory irritation from Karenia brevis (red tide) in Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties (Issued: 12-08, 6 a.m.). Conditions may vary. Karenia brevis (red tide) is also present along the coast at concentrations that may cause respiratory irritation with onshore winds in Charlotte and Lee counties. A moderate to high risk of respiratory irritation is most likely when winds are blowing onshore or alongshore, and less likely when winds are blowing offshore. 

According to NOAA, Karenia brevis blooms can cause respiratory illness and eye irritation in humans. It can also kill marine life, and lead to shellfish closures. Blooms are often patchy, so impacts vary by the beach and throughout the day. NOAA monitors conditions daily and issues regular forecasts for red tide blooms in the Gulf of Mexico and east coast of Florida.

READ: Florida Aquarium, Ocean Conservancy team up to talk about solutions to red tide

Meanwhile, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation reported on December 7 that over the past week, the red tide-causing algae was observed in 76 samples. Bloom concentrations (>100,000 cells/liter) were present in 31 samples: four offshore of Hillsborough County, two in Manatee County, 20 in Sarasota County, one in Charlotte County, and four in Lee County.

Reports of fish kills suspected to be related to red tide were received over the past week in Pinellas, Manatee, and Sarasota counties. Additionally, respiratory irritation was reported in Manatee and Sarasota counties.