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Red Tide: What are the health risks to people and pets?Is it safe for my pet? Is it harmful to me? Learn the health risks associated with Red Tide. GINNY BEAGAN/TCPALMWochit

A stubborn red tide continues to pester Sarasota and Manatee counties, nearly a year after it first bloomed in waters off Florida's Gulf Coast.

Red tide has slowly intensified in the region since September when samples showed a drop in concentrations at local beaches, but the bloom is currently patchy, said Kate Hubbard, a research scientist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

“It's not like the whole coast is experiencing a really intense bloom,” Hubbard said. “At the beach level, it can vary over the course of a single day.”

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In Manatee County, red tide has reached bloom levels near Holmes Beach and the mouth of Tampa Bay, Hubbard said.

On Wednesday, the Florida Health and Human Services Department in Sarasota County announced that signs have been posted at local beaches this week to alert the public of the presence of red tide.

Those beaches include Longboat Key, Bird Key Park/Ringling Causeway, North Lido, Lido Casino, South Lido, Siesta Beach, Turtle Beach, Nokomis Beach, North Jetty, Venice Beach, Service Club, Venice Fishing Pier, Brohard Park, Caspersen, Manasota Key, and Blind Pass.

The department also cautioned beachgoers to not swim around dead fish, to not harvest or eat molluscan shellfish or distressed fish, and to keep pets away from dead sea life.

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium beach ambassadors on Friday reported dead fish at Manasota Key Beach and Lido Key Beach. On Thursday, they reported dead fish at Venice North Jetty Beach and Caspersen Beach, but the status of those beaches has not been updated.

Although some fish kills have been reported in the region, Hubbard said the amount of dead marine life because of red tide is not currently at the levels they were at earlier this year. 

The red tide event has been ongoing for almost 11 months, and once that mark is reached, it will be among the ten longest blooms recorded locally since 1953. 

The bloom started in November in Lee County and has been pushed by currents and winds to other areas along Florida's Gulf Coast, as far north as the Big Bend and Florida Panhandle.

“It hasn't really impacted one particular area for that entire time,” Hubbard said. “It's been pretty dynamic.”

Red tide first reached Sarasota and Manatee in April and has continued to linger in the region. 

Typically, red tide blooms develop in mid-Summer or early fall and continue into the winter or spring. However, Hubbard said it is impossible to predict when the ongoing red tide could dissipate.

“I hope there is an end in sight, and I hope it's not too far away,” Hubbard said. “I wish I had the ability to forecast into the future, but unfortunately we are still in a waiting game.”

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Source : https://www.heraldtribune.com/story/news/local/manatee/2021/10/08/red-tide-blooms-continue-florida-gulf-coast-warning-signs-posted-patchy-conditions-fish-kills/5992850001/

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