Massive red tide patch looms off the Suncoast

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- Florida Fish and Wildlife continues to track and test the growing red tide bloom currently in the Gulf waters.

We last reported the bloom as 60 miles wide and 90 miles long -- almost the size of the state of Connecticut.

It's the largest bloom since 2005 and 2006, which came into Sarasota Bay killing thousands of fish.

Residents and business owners alike remember that bloom all too well, and the hope this year is that it won't be a repeat of what they've previously had to endure.

Mike Carden is a manager at New Pass Bait & Grill. He says dealing with red tide can be manageable, but when a bloom lingers in one area for too long, that's when the negatives begin to pile up.

"It lasted for so long, that was the whole problem. A lot of times we get a red tide and it will come through, you know, and last maybe a week or two but this one (2005-2006) just went on for it seems like months."

Florida Fish and Wildlife is reporting this current bloom as comparable in size to the one that struck the Suncoast in 2005 and 2006, and even says it's still growing.

But the massive size of the patch may be what ends up helping Suncoast residents. FWC says that with its size, the main bloom is breaking off into lower concentrated patches that may not produce the same negative effects that were felt in 2005 and 2006.

"Although the bloom is growing spacially, it's mostly just breaking up and forming lower concentration patches on the outside of the larger bloom, which have been recognized ten miles offshore from Pinellas."

But it's not just local business owners that could feel the effects of red tide. A Mote Marine study in 2011 found those with asthma tend to suffer more effects than others.

As for people and businesses directly effected by the red tide, you'd assume they would be concerned, but Mike Carden -- along with many others -- are just taking it in stride.

"What can you do... you can't stop it, you know?"

Mote Marine researchers plan to go out again Tuesday to continue testing.