Red tide impacting Sarasota beaches, AMI next?

Unusually high red tide levels recently were reported on Sarasota County beaches and south to Charlotte Harbor, leaving people to wonder if it soon would affect Anna Maria Island.

The Boca Beacon newspaper, which serves Boca Grande directly on Charlotte Harbor south of the Venice-Manasota keys, is reporting the worst red tide breakout in most people’s memories — including massive fish kills. Numerous sea turtles and manatees have died.

Karenia brevis, the red tide organism, was detected in low and background concentrations in several samples from Manatee County the week ending June 29, it is unusual for this time of year. September and October tend to be the worst months for red tide, which leaves dead sea life and respiratory issues for humans in its wake.

Suzi Fox, Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring executive director, said her volunteers, who walk the beach in the morning during sea turtle nesting season, May-October, have noted they have experienced some slight effects.

“Volunteers have said they are feeling scratchy throats, but not much more,” Fox said June 13.

According to Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, the beaches are still safe for people, both those with respiratory issues should exercise care.

— ChrisAnn Silver Esformes

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