No Swim Advisory issued for Bird Key Park Beach

Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 4:29 PM EST
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Sarasota County health officials have issued a “No Swim” advisory for Bird Key Park Beach near the Ringling Causeway.

The amount of enterococcus bacteria found during water quality testing on Monday, March 6 was outside acceptable limits. The beach remains open, but wading, swimming and water recreation is not recommended when no swim advisories are in place.

Additionally, The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County reminds the public that elevated levels of red tide continue to be detected at all 16 Sarasota County beaches. Signage advising the public not to swim or engage in water recreation will remain up until further testing is conducted.

The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County has resampled the beach today, and expects those results late afternoon tomorrow. Crews in Sarasota County are also working on plans to clean red tide debris from local beaches.

Enterococcus bacteria can come from a variety of natural and human-made sources. These include pet waste, livestock, birds, land-dwelling and marine wildlife, stormwater runoff, and human sewage from failed septic systems and sewage spills.

Residents and visitors are urged not to wade, swim, or engage in water recreation at this beach until the advisory is lifted.

In addition, you should not eat shellfish such as crabs and shrimp collected in the immediate area of any beach with a no-swim advisory in place. Finfish caught live and healthy can be eaten if filleted.

To help keep beach water safe for swimming and recreation, do not allow pets to roam on beaches and in park areas and pick up pet waste. Additionally, children in diapers and people of all ages with diarrhea should not go into the water.

Some individuals with existing breathing problems, such as asthma, might experience more severe effects. Usually, symptoms stop when a person leaves the beach or goes indoors.

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

If symptoms do not subside, contact your healthcare provider for evaluation.

The Department makes the following recommendations:

  • Do not swim around dead fish.
  • If you have chronic respiratory problems, consider staying away from the beach as red tide can affect your breathing.
  • Do not harvest or eat molluscan shellfish and distressed or dead fish. If fish are healthy, rinse fillets with tap or bottled water and throw out the guts.
  • Keep pets and livestock away from water, sea foam, and dead sea life.
  • Residents living in beach areas who experience respiratory symptoms are advised to close windows and run the air conditioner (ensuring that the A/C filter is maintained according to the manufacturer’s specifications).
  • If outdoors, residents may choose to wear paper filter masks, especially if onshore winds are blowing.