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Red Tide: Precautions to Take & Resources to Help You Steer Clear

what is red tideRed Tide is definitely a beach-goer’s and boater’s nightmare.  It stinks (literally)!  Here are some basic facts about Red Tide and guidelines that you need to know about what to do when there is Red Tide in the Sarasota and Anna Maria Island area and on the beaches.

What is Red Tide?

It’s an algae bloom that develops off-shore. The algae bloom can turn the water a murky color, it could turn “reddish” but it’s not always the case. This algae is natural in low concentrations, the problem occurs when their is a high concentration of the bloom.  This typically occurs offshore, but is often brought onshore in the Fall, when deeper water from the Gulf comes onshore, so Fall is a typical time to see Red Tide along Florida’s west coast.  Red Tide can paralyze the nervous system of fish, so they cannot breath, which sadly leads to killing many fish and often, manatees.

Red Tide No-No’s

Pregnant women should stay away from areas affected by Red Tide.  Dogs and pets should also avoid swimming or beaches affected by the Red Tide – it can be toxic to them.  People suffering with asthma or allergies will also feel the effects worse and should avoid Red Tide areas. Do not eat shellfish that may have been contaminated with Red Tide. If you are particularly sensitive to plant irritation, it is recommended not to swim in areas affected by red tide.  Do not swim amongst dead fish because of the can release a harmful bacteria.

How Long Will Red Tide Last?

There is no way to determine how long Red Tide will continue, but your best bet is to hope for a good breeze! If we get a good offshore wind, the Red Tide will hopefully blow on by.

Red Tide Resources

Mote Marine’s Red Tide Research
Check out the FWC report on where the Red Tide is blooming and how bad it is.  They have a handy map that will tell you if the bloom is “non-present” (represented by white dots) “low,” (green) “medium” (orange) or “high” (red).  Here’s hoping our area will see more white dots, rather than the orange or red ones, soon.