RED TIDE WREAKS HAVOC ON FLORIDA COAST BUT NOT THE KEYS YET

A sign warns beachgoers in Naples of the presence of red tide. FLORIDA-GUIDEBOOK.COM/Unsplash

Issues of red tide are popping up throughout southwest Florida, from Pinellas County to Monroe County’s offshore. 

According to a March 8 report by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, red tide, or harmful algal bloom, was detected in 123 samples, of which 79 possessed medium concentrations throughout the state’s southwest coast. Eight of those samples were found offshore of Collier County and one offshore of Monroe County. The rest were found in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee and Sarasota counties. 

“We continue to use satellite imagery to help track this patchy event,” FWC states. 

Per Mote Marine Laboratory, Florida red tide is a higher-than-normal concentration of a naturally occurring, microscopic algae called Karenia brevis, often abbreviated as K. brevis. It produces brevetoxins — powerful and potent neurotoxins — that can kill marine animals and be harmful to humans.

Possible effects from medium concentrations of red tide include respiratory irritation, shellfish harvest closures and probably fish kills. According to FWC, reports of fish kills in those counties are suspected to be related to the recent red tide event.

Per the University of South Florida and FWC, forecasts for Pinellas County to northern Monroe County predicted western movement of surface waters and southeastern transport of subsurface waters in most areas over the next 3 or so days.

At high concentrations, red tide can discolor water a red or brown hue. Blooms caused by other algal species can appear red, brown, green or purple. Red tides can last as little as a few weeks or longer than a year depending on the conditions that influence its growth, according to FWC. They could even subside and reoccur. 

Red tide was observed at very low to high concentrations in and offshore of Pinellas County; low to high concentrations in Manatee County; very low to high concentrations in Sarasota County; background to high concentrations in Charlotte County; background to high concentrations in Lee County; low to high concentrations in Collier County; and very low to medium concentrations offshore of Monroe County.

Jim McCarthy is one of the many Western New Yorkers who escaped the snow and frigid temperatures for warm living by the water. A former crime & court reporter and city editor for two Western New York newspapers, Jim has been honing his craft since he graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 4-plus years in the Keys, Jim has enjoyed connecting with the community. “One of my college professors would always preach to be curious,” he said. “Behind every person is a story that’s unique to them, and one worth telling. As writers, we are the ones who paint the pictures in the readers minds of the emotions, the struggles and the triumphs.” Jim is past president of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club, which is composed of energetic members who serve the community’s youth and older populations. Jim is a sports fanatic who loves to watch football, hockey, mixed martial arts and golf. He also enjoys time with family and his new baby boy, Lucas, who arrived Oct. 4, 2022.