Red tide in “very low to low” concentrations remains well offshore the coast of northern Pinellas County Aug. 8. The FWC confirms that “no bloom levels of red tide have been detected alongshore or inshore.”
Photo courtesy of GREG BYRD/MOTE MARINE LABORATORY
“Waldo,” the Mote Marine robot, has reported blooms on the surface and to depths of about 80 feet off the Pasco-Hernando line.
Red tide in “very low to low” concentrations remains well offshore the coast of northern Pinellas County, according to latest information from the Florida Wildlife Commission.
In a report issued Aug. 8, the FWC confirms that “no bloom levels of red tide have been detected alongshore or inshore.”
However, a “patchy bloom” up to 60 miles wide and 90 miles long is visible in satellite images from the Optical Oceanography Laboratory. The bloom is located at least 20 miles offshore between Dixie and northern Pinellas counties.
The surface bloom shows little movement, according to the latest forecast by the Collaboration for Prediction of Red Tides. Red tide in bottom waters is moving slowly to the east-southeast. Experts say the bloom should remain offshore for the next few days.
The FWC is scheduled to release another report Aug. 15. Residents can call 1-866-300-9399 for the latest conditions.
Florida Red tide, aka karenia brevis, is common to the Gulf of Mexico. A red tide bloom occurs whenever there is a higher-than-normal concentration. Red tide produces a brevetoxin that can kill fish, birds and marine mammals; cause health problems for humans; and adversely affect local economies, according to the information from the Florida Wildlife Research Institute.
Thousands of fish have died during this current bloom, according to the FWC. Among the “dead and moribund benthic reef fish” are various snapper and grouper species, hogfish, grunts, crabs, flounder, bull sharks, lionfish, baitfish, eel, sea snakes, tomtates, lizardfish, filefish, octopus and triggerfish. To report a fish kill, call 1-800-636-0511.
Humans generally are not affected, but wave action can cause the karenia brevis cells to break open, which releases toxins into the air that can cause respiratory irritation. For folks with severe or chronic respiratory conditions, such as emphysema or asthma, red tide can cause serious illness.
The red tide toxins can also get into mollusks, such as oysters and clams, which can lead to neurotoxic shellfish poisoning to those who eat contaminated shellfish. People also should not eat fish suspected to have died from red tide exposure.
Pet owners are advised to keep their animals from eating dead fish that wash up on the beach. Also, if pets swim in a red tide area, they should be washed off immediately afterward.
Reports of red tide in the Gulf of Mexico date back to the 1500s. Red tide occurs most years. When it concentrates and forms a bloom, it causes problems. A study of three red tide blooms in the 1970s and 1980s, estimated economic losses between $15 and $25 million.
A red tide bloom in 2005-06 devastated the county’s marine life and local businesses felt the effects as tourists canceled bookings. The only positive was additional money granted to researchers, such as the FWRI in St. Petersburg and Mote Laboratories in Sarasota, to study red tide.
Two underwater robots were deployed Aug. 1 by Mote and the University of South Florida. Their reports are helping in short-term forecasts of the direction of the bloom path.
“Waldo,” the Mote Marine robot, has reported blooms on the surface and to depths of about 80 feet off the Pasco-Hernando line. The USF robot, called “Bass,” is at the outer edge of the bloom and reported elevated chlorophyll in water as deep as 131 feet.
A research cruise, which ended Aug. 6, included scientists from FWC, Mote and USF. The researchers were attempting to construct a 3-D depiction of red tide by measuring concentrations of the algae in waters offshore Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties.
Mote scientists also used their “BreveBuster” during the cruise, which was designed to detect red tide alga. The specialized tool was developed by Mote with grant money it received after the devastating bloom in 2005-06.