Red tide waning in Sarasota County waters

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has released its midweek report on the toxic algae.

SARASOTA — Red tide levels in Sarasota County have dropped, according to a midweek report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Samples taken offshore near Sarasota show trace to very low amounts of the toxic algae organism, Karenia brevis, which has plagued the area for about 16 months. After relief at the end of December, the algae that has killed tens of thousands of marine animals had a resurgence in early January.

There is no clear evidence that the lower levels indicate that the end of the bloom is coming. At its peak, the coffee-colored red tide bloom — 150 miles long and 20 miles wide — extended from St. Petersburg to Key West.

Exposure to befouled sea spray creates respiratory problems in people, especially those with asthma.

Sea water near Siesta Beach is around 65 degrees; red tide cells begin to stress and die at around 60 degrees, experts say.

Read more: Complete coverage of red tide in Southwest Florida

According to the recent report, red tide was detected at medium levels in Charlotte County and very low amounts in Lee, Monroe and Collier counties.

Water samples in Northwest Florida, offshore of Pasco County and near Volusia County on the Florida East Coast had trace amounts of red tide.

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