SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - A year ago, we were experiencing the worst red tide outbreak the Suncoast had seen in decades.
In 2019, we haven’t seen any sign of the toxic algae on our beaches so far. However, on Tuesday night, the question was raised after Nokomis Beach saw some very murky waters that came with horrible smells. A scene that put all beach-goers on high alert.
So was is it red tide?
Scientists say the Suncoast is in the clear - at least for now. This time, it’s brown algae which from a distance looks like an oil spill mixed with thick globs of seaweed. Although it looks gross, experts say it’s nothing to be worried about.
“It’s natural. It’s supposed to be there. It’s not a toxic algae. It is unpleasant when it washes up to the shore because it comes in large mats, but it’s nothing of any major major consequence. It’s more due to the wind coming out of the west and pushing them more and more onshore more than anything else,” Brett Blackburn, a science professor at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, explained.
This algae actually serves as a habitat for marine life and is not harmful to humans.
“When everyone hears algae now, they think back to red tide and freak out," Blackburn continued, “This is a micro algae and not a macro algae and really doesn’t cause that much of a problem other than the fact that it doesn’t smell good.”
However, many say they’re still not getting into the water until this part of the Suncoast is back to having beautiful beaches.
“I’m just here observing and seeing how bad it is. I certainly would not like to go into this water, and I will not eat the fish from this water. Nope. Nope,” Venice resident, Dan Thorton, told us.
As a reminder, officials do test the waters of all Sarasota County beaches weekly to ensure that it’s safe for swimmers.