Winter arrives, islanders bid good riddance to red tide

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Satellite imagery from the University of South Florida Optical Oceanography Lab shows the red tide bloom Sept. 19, six weeks after it arrived to the Anna Maria Island coastline. Islander Courtesy Images: USF/Mote Marine Laboratory
Satellite imagery from the University of Florida Dec. 19 shows substantial clearing of the harmful algal bloom.

Signa Bouziane was wrapping Christmas presents Dec. 19 as rain fell on Holmes Beach. She and her sister own Mister Roberts, a decades-old family-run resort-wear boutique.

“I’d be the happiest person on the face of the earth if the red tide really does go away,” Bouziane said. “As a business owner, it’s not been good. And not good to see all the tourists disappear. I’m just praying that it stays away and we have a good season here on the island. We all definitely need one after this.”

As the snowbirds continue to flock on Anna Maria Island, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission readings on red tide continued to show it had diminished.

The only medium count of red tide found by FWC Dec. 17 along the southwest Florida coast was found at Palma Sola Bay.

The midweek report Dec. 19 showed the only medium and high counts of red tide in Manatee County were still concentrated in Palma Sola Bay.

Meanwhile, the Gulf of Mexico coastline remained free from dead fish and red tide.

Stephanie Kettle, Mote Marine Laboratory public relations manager, said University of Florida satellite imagery maps provided good visual measures of the clearing along the coastline. Only broken evidence of the Karenia brevis bloom showed on the Dec. 19 image and it was mostly concentrated offshore, to the south.

Kettle said Mote’s phytoplankton ecology program indicated Dec. 19 good readings in two sample locations near the lab. The dock samples had zero red tide cells present and samples from the New Pass monitoring station showed background to not present levels.

Similar readings were found elsewhere in Sarasota and Manatee counties.


‘Super-dooper happy’

On Gulf Drive at Slim’s Place in Anna Maria, Jessica Gordon was serving customers Dec. 19, pouring drinks and answering the phone.

“I’m super-dooper happy if it’s leaving,” she said.

The 21-year old has lived by the Gulf of Mexico her entire life and was more than ready for the red tide to dissipate. She was too young to remember the red tide of 2004-05, which has been compared to the current bloom of almost 14 months.

“I can’t remember it before, but this one made me sick a couple of times and the smell was pretty bad, too,” Gordon said.

“I’m ready to have our customers back, our fish back and our water back so we can swim again. I’m so ready for it to be gone.”

She’s ready to ring a new year — one without red tide.

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