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Sarasota County reimplements red tide warnings at multiple beaches

Elevated levels of red tide were detected at Venice Beach, Service Club Park, Venice Fishing Pier, Brohard Beach, Caspersen Beach, Manasota Key, and Blind Pass.

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. — Sarasota County health leaders have issued another red tide warning just days after lifting it.

Water samples now show elevated levels at Venice Beach, Service Club Park, Venice Fishing Pier, Brohard Beach, Caspersen Beach, Manasota Key and Blind Pass.

Sarasota Department of Health officials recommend that people who are sensitive to red tide or experiencing symptoms avoid the beach or go into an air-conditioned space.

"Some people may have mild and short-lived respiratory symptoms such as eye, nose, and throat irritation like those associated with the common cold or seasonal sinus allergies. Some individuals with existing breathing problems, such as asthma, might experience more severe effects," Sarasota DHHS wrote in a news release. 

Meanwhile, local marine researchers said what the ocean currents do over the next few days will make a big difference in whether red tide moves up the coast to Tampa Bay.

Florida Gulf Coast University professor of marine biology at the Water School, Michael Parsons, is an expert in algae blooms. He said predicting the movement of red tide is similar to predicting any weather pattern, as the direction of the currents is determined by a combination of wind and tidal currents.

"It's almost like watching a hurricane, right? So what's the hurricane track going to do? Is that coming toward you or is it moving away from you? So it's similar to that. And is it intensifying or is it dissipating?" Parsons said.

He said the strength of the red tide bloom is then determined by what the algae can feed on. 

Now, Parsons and other researchers are studying to see how the runoff of freshwater from Hurricane Ian will impact the strength of the blooms.

"[Karenia brevis] don't like freshwater. So as we have freshwater continuing to discharge from all the rainfall and the flooding with Hurricane Ian, those conditions may not be favorable to red tide if the water is still too fresh as they move towards the coastline. So that won't be good for them," Parsons said.

However, he said it's possible the runoff could have the opposite effect as well. 

"If the waters are diluting and they're mixing with the ocean water, maybe there are enough nutrients left in the water salty enough that that could actually help them grow, which could intensify the bloom," Parsons said.

Parsons said researchers will also be comparing what they're seeing in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian to how Hurricane Irma impacted red tide. 

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