Hurricane Matthew may break up red tide along Gulf

A possible benefit from the oncoming storm could be a huge help to the Sarasota area.

Sarasota, Florida- Red Tide may get some help from Hurricane Matthew. The algae bloom has littered beaches with dead fish from Pinellas County all the way south to Collier County along the Gulf Coast with  Sarasota County having some of the highest concentrations and fish kill.

 “I’m hoping it will be helpful to get the dead fish out and make the red tide go away,” says Betsy Colbert, Sarasota resident.

The answer for Betsy Colbert and others irritated by the algae bloom may be blowing in the wind from Hurricane Matthew.

“Any kind of wind that increases circulation increases turbulence can break the cells open and kill them dissipate the bloom,” says Tracy Fanara, staff scientist and Environmental Health Program Manager for Mote Marine Laboratory. Fanara says it’ll get worse before it gets better, Matthew’s winds on Thursday will be on shore.  “Winds be North NE, chance of respiratory irritation,” says Fanara.

But on Friday the winds switch direction. Fanara says, “Those winds will be offshore to the west likely decrease respiratory irritation so we’ll get a break.”

The storm’s timing is good. Mote’s latest test results show 11 of 16 test sites along Sarasota beaches with high to medium levels of red tide.

Tests show high levels on Longboat Key, North Lido key and Turtle Beach with medium concentrations at 8 locations including Ringling Causeway, Lido Casino, South Lido Park, Siesta Key Beach, Nokomis Beach, Venice Beach, Manasota Beach and Blind Pass Beach.

If the storm breaks up the bloom will it come back? Fanara says, “Yes it’s very possible the red tide bloom can come back depends on the water chemistry and weather conditions.” Fanara adds the relief can be temporary or permanent, no one knows for sure.”

   Any relief from the irritating algae is welcomed. Colbert says,  “I’m finished with red tide love to have it over with and enjoy the beach.”

(© 2016 WTSP)


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