Red tide concentrations ranging from not present to medium are depicted on this map of sample results taken the week of Oct. 20-25.
It’s been years since more than background concentrations of red tide bloom was detected in water alongshore or offshore Pinellas County, but according to the latest reports from the Florida Wildlife and Fish Commission, low to medium concentrations have been found in water samples taken in southern parts of Pinellas.
The Oct. 26 report showed a patchy bloom extending from alongshore Pinellas County through Collier County, affecting about 150 miles of shoreline in southwest Florida.
But, there’s no cause for alarm, Kevin Baxter, spokesperson for the Florida Wildlife and Research Institute in St. Petersburg, said Oct. 26.
Baxter said so far, there had been no reports of fish kills or respiratory illnesses in Pinellas, mostly because concentrations of the organism have not been high. Fish kills have been reported in Sarasota County south to Collier County.
“It’s a large bloom with certain patchy areas of lower concentrations,” Baxter said.
The red tide in Pinellas is mostly along the southern edge of the bloom’s boundary. Medium concentrations have been detected in water samples taken offshore of St. Pete Beach and some lower concentrations alongshore further south. Very low concentrations were reported on the north side of the Skyway Fishing Pier and medium concentrations were found in samples taken on the south side.
No readings above medium were found in any of the samples taken in locations within the bloom area last week.
Residents who lived in Pinellas back in 2005-2006 may remember the extensive red tide bloom that caused massive fish kills along county beaches. Large numbers of sea turtle and other marine animals died from complications of red tide. Fish found on the bottom of the ocean offshore also were affected. The FWRI reported deaths of everything from baitfish to goliath grouper, as well as sponges, corals, worms, mollusks, crabs, sea urchins and starfish.
The smell along the beach was too much for many, and some experienced respiratory illnesses. It was a bad year for tourism.
Baxter said there was no reason to believe that the current red tide bloom would cause problems. He said red tide is a common occurrence in the Gulf of Mexico.
“It happens on a fairly regular degree,” he said.
Florida Red tide, scientific name of Karenia brevis, was first identified in 1947, but reports of the organism date back to the 1530s. Red tide blooms occur almost every year, most usually in the late summer to early fall. The most common areas are between Clearwater and Sanibel Island. Most blooms last three to five months.
Baxter said it wasn’t possible to predict how long a bloom would last or where it would go or if concentrations would go higher.
“It’s all based on the winds and the currents,” he said. “Right now, it appears to be moving south.”