Warning signs posted after low levels of red tide detected along Sarasota beaches

Depending on what beach you go to in Sarasota County, you may spot signs warning that red tide has been detected in the water.     

The signs have gone up from the North Jetty in Venice to Longboat Key. Some beachgoers may feel a tickle in their throat, but researchers say this red tide is a typical annual event and is not caused by the Piney Point wastewater release.

Red tide is the nickname given to a naturally occurring algae that sometimes blooms into large patches. It releases a toxin that’s harmful to marine life and can cause respiratory issues in people.


Red tide through the decades: Still a mystery

Florida summers are remembered for many things, both good and bad. On our coast, they're sometimes remembered for red tide. 

The current patch of red tide has been around for the last few months, creeping up from the south from Lee and Charlotte counties. 

Right now, it's registering low counts off of Lido, Turtle Beach, Nokomis Beach and the North Jetty. 

There's only one spot on Siesta Key were counts are registering higher. 

The Sarasota County Health Department placed signs warning of red tide after those elevated counts came back from Monday’s water samples. There was also some reports of respiratory irritation. 

Strong currents and wind shifts could be playing a role in why we are now seeing red tide levels off Sarasota County. If those winds die down, the red tide could shift back to the south.  


USF’s red tide research helps predict Piney Point wastewater flow

The Tampa Bay Coastal Ocean Model was designed by USF's College of Marine Science to track red tide.  Now the model is being used to forecast where nutrients from Piney Point will end up. 

There has been concern that water dumped from Piney Point could turn into red tide. Scientists are monitoring that and say if this current red tide made its way into Tampa Bay, it could potentially utilize the excess nutrients in the water. 

Yesterday, a USF researcher said -- so far -- water samples and models from the Piney Point spill do not show those indications.

LINK: For the latest red tide counts, you can visit FWC’s website