Strong red tide bloom expected to move toward Lee County over weekend

Strong red tide bloom expected to move toward Lee County over weekend

A powerful red tide bloom is persisting off Sarasota County and is likely to head in the direction of Lee County during the weekend. But, as per a local water quality scientist, there isn’t much likelihood of major impacts there anytime soon.

Officials collected water samples off Sarasota, Pinellas and Manatee counties and discovered counts of 1 million cells per liter or above of Kareniabrevis, the organism that leads to red tide.

Haley Rutger, with Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium in Sarasota said that the level was still quite higher, and they have spotted lifeless fish at numerous of their local beaches. It is one of the outcomes of a red tide.

The occurrence of the organism responsible for red tide takes place naturally but can flourish to risky levels when conditions are apt. For over 100 years, red tides have been reported on this coast, but a lot of surplus nutrients flowing off developed landscape of Southwest Florida can worsen such outbreaks.

Lake Okeechobee releases could have contributed much to such blooms by sending off nutrients in large amounts to the Gulf of Mexico.

On Wednesday, the lake’s surface was 15.7 feet above sea level, which is higher than the Army Corps of Engineer's protocol. The lake’s releases in combination with local storm water runoff can push freshwater and the nutrients present in it to 15 miles or more within the Gulf of Mexico. High volumes of water have been released from the lake.

Daniel Andrews, with Captains for Clean Water, said, “These chemicals (fertilizers and other nutrient sources) fuel toxin-producing harmful algal blooms and have been linked to an increase in the intensity and duration of red tide outbreaks”.

Andrews mentioned that there were no red tide signs in Pine Island Sound, his main fishing grounds.


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