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Date of Issue: September 22, 2005

Red tide widespread, but patchy, little noticed here

Red tide is still out there, but its patchiness and dispersal are such that it may well not be noticed.

Scientists at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota reported last week that "Distribution of the Florida red tide organism is widespread yet patchy along the shore on the west coast from the Panama City to Naples. This does not mean that it is present everywhere between those cities. At any point in time it is likely that there are many localities along the shore where red tide is not detectable. These locations may be within a few kilometers of areas where there is detectable red tide.

"Red tide concentrations are presently high in New Pass and some locations in Sarasota Bay. These locations could shift within a matter of hours. Satellite remote sensing suggests widespread distribution of red tide offshore."

Red tide, Karenia brevis, is a naturally occurring organism that for unknown reasons "blooms" periodically. These blooms can cause death in marine life like fish, dolphins and manatees, and can cause respiratory distress in humans. The current red tide outbreak off Southwest Florida began in December 2004.