Monday, October 8, 2012

Update on Red Tide Algae Bloom

The current red tide bloom has it's first wave of dead fish lining the shoreline of Manasota Key.

The effects of the algae bloom spotted near Charlotte Harbor on September 30 are washing ashore Sarasota County beaches.  The Mote Beach Conditions Report System has received accounts of dead fish and respiratory irritation from all the beaches it monitors in south Sarasota County. Dead fish are lining the shores on the Englewood beaches of Manasota Key, all killed by a neurotoxin released by the red tide that paralyzes the fish. It kills the small ones first then the larger ones.  Sadly, larger mammals like dolphins, manatees, & even sea birds are affected as well. 

Karenia brevis or "red tide" as it is known by Florida coastal dwellers is actually not red but a muddy yellowish-green color.  The presence of red tide has little to do with the water color and more to do with dead sea life washing up on the shoreline.  Mote Marine in partnership with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission will be monitoring the size & location of the bloom by taking water samples with the help of Waldo the robot. The yellow, torpedo-shaped autonomous underwater vehicle was deployed  by boat about 2 miles off the coast of  Englewood last Friday. During the next 2 weeks Waldo the underwater robot is programmed to  head southward to an area offshore of Boca Grande Pass and then head  to the last known edge of the bloom collecting data to determine the size, shape, & movement of the bloom.  This information will help Mote scientists gain a better understanding of red tide dynamics.

So, if you are heading to a SWFL beach you just might experience the red tide tickle in the back of you throat that causes a hacking cough. You will most likely be greeted by the foul smell of decaying marine life in the air. Most beaches have clean-up crews raking of the dead fish and disposing of them. For anyone with asthma, emphysema, or any type of compromised breathing condition check the links to Mote Marine or Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation to check the conditions before you go. Hopefully, the winds & the currents will take this algae bloom way out into the middle of the Gulf very soon where it can't do any more damage.

(Photo credit:  Mote Marine Laboratory)
Waldo the robot is currently out in the Gulf collecting data on the algae bloom. 

The current status of the red tide bloom from Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.  This link is a great resource with up-to-date red tide conditions for the entire state of Florida.

Lemon Bay in Englewood, Florida is a spectacular playground on the water for boats of all kind.  The kayak & SUP community love it's mangroves, abundant wildlife, & easy access.  The view is looking south to Placida across the bay.

Englewood's oldest profession is fishing.  It is said by old-timers that the mullet were so thick in the bay that you didn't need a net,  they would just jump in your boat.

On Englewood Beach looking south towards Stump Pass.

Blind Pass Beach is about 2 miles north of Englewood Beach.  Don't confuse Manasota Key's Blind Pass with Sanibel's Blind Pass.  All is well on Sanibel.  

Not everyone stays off the beach during red tide.  This shark's tooth hunter is obviously not going to let dead fish keep him from the beach.