The latest report of water samples collected by the Florida Wildlife Commission detected very low concentrations of red tide in two areas offshore Pinellas County.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission scientists continue to keep a close eye on a bloom of red tide offshore between Dixie and northern Pinellas counties.
FWC said in its Aug. 15 report that “recent satellite images have been unreliable due to cloud cover.”
Satellite images taken last week by the Optical Oceanography Laboratory showed a patchy bloom up to 60 miles wide and 90 miles long at least 20 miles offshore. The FWC said it has received numerous reports of a widespread fish kills.
Florida Red Tide, aka karenia brevis, 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.
Water samples collected since the Aug. 8 report found very low concentrations of red tide offshore Pinellas County in two locations. Four samples collected inshore of Manatee and Sarasota counties and one sample collected offshore of Wakulla County contained background concentrations.
“No bloom concentrations of red tide have been detected alongshore or inshore of any of the areas sampled,” according to the Aug. 15 report. “Forecasts by the Collaboration for Prediction of Red Tides show slow southeast movement of water where the bloom was last detected.”
Additional samples collected throughout the state week did not contain red tide.
Red tide is a naturally occurring organism. Blooms, which happen when there are unusually high concentrations, have been reported in the Gulf of Mexico since the 1500s. Some scientists believe pollution is a cause of blooms of red tide and other algae.
Pinellas County’s fertilizer ban is a tool local officials are using to reduce pollution in local waterways and the Gulf of Mexico. Staff says that excess nutrients, which can come from misuse of fertilizers, contribute to harmful algae blooms, such as red tide.
FWC and scientists from Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota will continue monitoring the current red tide bloom. Water samples will be collected Aug. 19 as part of the FWC-Mote Cooperative Red Tide Program.
Mote reported that “Waldo,” an autonomous underwater vehicle, had arrived back at Mote’s main campus in Sarasota Aug. 13. Scientists will study water samples and other data collected during the robot’s “zig-zagging” journey over 140 miles from the central part of the bloom to beyond the last known position of the southern edge.
“It is important to monitor south of the bloom’s last known edge (offshore of northern Pinellas County) because recent forecasts suggest it will move slowly south and southeast parallel to the coast,” Mote officials said.