SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. — A "No Swim" advisory has been lifted for three Sarasota County beaches, however, the advisory still remains in effect for other beaches in the area.
The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County conducted water quality resampling of beaches on Friday, Aug. 6. The beaches removed from the "No Swim" advisory include Casperson Beach, Longboat Key and Brohard Beach.
Test results indicate that bacteria levels are outside of acceptable limits and “No Swim” advisories remain issued for these beaches:
- Bird Key Park/Ringling Causeway
- Turtle Beach
- Nokomis Beach
- Manasota Key
- Blind Pass
- Venice Beach
- Venice Pier
Officials with the Sarasota Department of Health are alerting people not to swim at several area beaches due to unacceptable limits of enterococcus bacteria in the water.
"The beaches remain open, but wading, swimming and water recreation is not recommended if no swim advisories advisory in place," the department wrote in a press release.
Signage warning beachgoers not to hop in the water have been posted and will remain until follow-up testing results meet EPA standards. The Sarasota Department of Health says it will be back out on Friday for further sampling.
So, what is enterococcus bacteria? Health officials say it can come from things like pet waster, birds, stormwater runoff and human sewage from failed septic systems, among other things.
"No sewage spills have been reported within one mile of the posted beaches in the past two weeks," the department added.
The most likely culprit, according to Sarasota County and the City of Venice rapid response team, is natural sources.
"The team observed a wrack line of decaying algae and numerous dead and decaying fish associated with red tide impacting the area among the rocks and along the shoreline. Wrack lines, which provide food for shorebirds and wildlife, act as natural bacteria reservoirs," the health department wrote.
The Tampa Bay area has also seen significant rainfall this week which could be a contributing factor to the heightened bacteria level.
“When these bacteria are found at high levels in recreational waters, there is a risk that some people may become ill. People, especially those who are very young, elderly, or who have a weak immune system that swallow water while swimming can get stomach or intestinal illnesses. If water contacts a cut or sore, people can get infections or rashes,” said DOH-Sarasota Environmental Administrator Tom Higginbotham.
To help keep beach water safe, the public is asked to pick up their pet's waste and not go swimming if you have diarrhea.
You can monitor beach conditions through Mote here.