Red tide present at some beaches in Sarasota County

Hurricane Ian possibly sparked red tide at some Sarasota County beaches.
Hurricane Ian possibly sparked red tide at some Sarasota County beaches.(WWSB)
Published: Oct. 20, 2022 at 7:50 PM EDT
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NOKOMIS BEACH, Fla. (WWSB) - The signs are up. Red tide is back on Nokomis Beach and several other beaches in in the southern part of Sarasota County. Those beaches include Turtle Beach, North Jetty, Venice Beach, Service Club Park, Venice Fishing Pier, Brohard Beach and Caspersen Beach. Some people are feeling it while others are not.

“Just kind of coughing a little bit, my throat is a little scratchy, but it’s not too terrible yet,” said Ashley Shearer, a Venice resident.

Levels of red tide have increased at these beaches, but it’s still being considered a low level of red tide at this time. Experts are urging people to stay out of the water at beaches where red tide is present.

“Most people may not experience any symptoms at all when they go to the beach because the levels are classified as low,” said Tom Higginbotham, Director of Environmental Health for Sarasota County. “However, those people who are sensitive, especially have respiratory issues, if they have trouble breathing, if they experience coughing or sneezing or a scratchy throat, the health department recommends that they leave the beach.”

Environmentalists say stormwater from the recent hurricane most likely sparked this latest red tide.

“It’s really concerning because we know that Hurricane Ian flushed a tremendous amount of nutrients into our estuaries, and then out to the Gulf,” said Justin Bloom, Founder of Suncoast Waterkeeper. “The types of nutrients that after they break down, can become readily available as fuel for red tide.”

There’s concern that this red tide could get worse before it gets better, and eventually travel to the beaches to the north.

“I’m hopeful that it won’t be a big deal, but it is a little worrisome about all the debris from the hurricane,” said Nancy, an Englewood resident.

The water will be tested again on Monday with the results expected on Tuesday or Wednesday. For more information on red tide you can log onto ourgulfenvironment.net or https://myfwc.com/research/redtide/statewide/.