VENICE, Fla. — There were signs posted alerting beachgoers at Venice Beach in Sarasota County of the presence of red tide Thursday.

That was about the only sign of the algae bloom out on the beach.

According to test results released this week by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Venice Beach showed high concentration levels of the red tide organism, Karenia brevis.

“Not so much today, I can feel it a tiny bit but two days ago we were in Englewood and we only lasted about an hour and everybody on the beach was coughing,” beachgoer Bev Williams said. “People in our community, like when you post stuff where you are and if it’s red tide, they’re like, ‘Where is it? How bad was it?' Because people want to know if it’s worth coming to the beach. But, we saw this morning on the news that a reporter was here on Venice Beach and she said they didn’t see any signs of it so we thought we’d come down and give it a try because Englewood was a little bit rough a couple of days ago.”

For others, the presence of news reporters was enough to make people nervous after a massive red tide bloom severely hurt businesses in the area in 2018.

“The media, the media. Once the news gets out and the media and everything, I guess that’s the biggest scare about the red tide and everything,” said Rick Schattauer, Dock Master at a local restaurant The Crow’s Nest. “We really haven’t had any sign or anything of the red tide, yet. But, we have heard that it’s coming north.”

“We were at Venice Beach this morning at 9:00 a.m. doing some yoga and I saw some news people over there by the water and I thought, I don’t want them saying there’s tons of red tide because there isn’t and it was pleasant and it was wonderful,” said Kristy West, a Venice Beach native of 11 years.

“The thing I’m really concerned about is, I really like to support our local businesses downtown and I don’t want them losing business because of news sensationalism that, ‘oh my God, it’s so bad’,” added West. “What I don’t want is the news sensationalizing red tide. If it’s manageable, for instance, at the beach the other day there was a yellow flag out, which means there’s some there, but it wasn’t enough to be irritating and there was quite a few people there enjoying the beautiful beach.”

Forecasting where the red tide might go during the next several days largely indicates it moving away from the coastline because of a north-northeast wind.

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