Red tide is the result of a harmful algal bloom which generally occurs in late summer or early fall. Fortunately, Anna Maria Island does not often see severe outbreaks as the blooms occur in the South Western Gulf of Mexico and don’t always make their way into our region.
In most of the cases in Florida and the Gulf of Mexico the species is called Karenia Brevis or K. Brevis as it’s commonly known. The microscopic organism exists offshore throughout the year and It only becomes a problem when the algae blooms at high concentrations.
Red tide is not something new, records show red tide in Florida for decades.
Some people believe that pollution has made the situation worse, but there is no direct link. Florida red tides develop 10-40 miles offshore, away from man-made nutrient sources and were observed in the mid-1900s before the coastlines were heavily developed. The wind, currents, and weather are factors in transporting red tide inshore. Once red tides are inshore the blooms can grow using man-made nutrients. Some believe that harmful algae in the water discharged from Lake Okeechobee (a freshwater lake located in SW Florida) might have caused or worsened the situation, but scientists say that this is not true.
Florida red tide can discolor water a red or brown hue, but the water can also remain its normal color during a bloom.
Red tides can last as little as a few weeks or longer and can subside and then reoccur. Dissipation depends on many factors including, sunlight, nutrients, water temperature and water currents.
The Florida red tide organism produce toxins that can affect a variety of marine animals. The accumulation and persistence of brevetoxins in these marine animals and environments such as seagrass and sediment can eventually lead to the transfer of these toxins to larger animals, including sea turtles, birds and marine mammals.
Karenia Brevis can only survive in marine waters, but when waves crash onshore, the cells break open allowing the breveto cells produced to become airborne. When the K. Brevis is present and winds blow onshore some people experience tearing eyes, sneezing, runny noses, coughing or scratchy throats. Offshore winds usually keep respiratory effects experienced by those on the shore to a minimum. The Florida Department of Health advises people with severe or chronic respiratory conditions, such as emphysema or asthma, to avoid red tide areas.
Swimming during a Florida red tide is safe for most people. For some people, it can cause skin irritation and burning eyes. If you experience irritation, get out of the water and thoroughly wash off.
During a red tide it is safe to eat local finfish as long as the fish are filleted before eaten. Although toxins may accumulate in the guts of fish, these areas are disposed of when the fish are filleted. Shellfish bought in store or served in restaurants are safe to eat during a bloom because the shellfish are tested monitored by the government for safety. Any illegally harvested and unregulated shellfish are particularly dangerous and should never be consumed. The Florida red tide toxin can not be seen or tasted and cooking or freezing does not destroy the toxin.
The harmful effects of a red tide are caused when the organism dies and toxins are released. Control of Florida red tides by killing the red tide organism and eliminating toxins in the water while not harming the environment is a complex issue. Presently there is no practical or acceptable way to do this.
Florida red tide is a natural phenomenon, but it can be an unwelcome and inconvenient occurrence for vacationers. There are lots of things to do other than going to the beach. Here are a few suggestions:
-Shop local boutiques — Bridge Street on Bradenton Beach or Pine Avenue on Anna Maria
-Kayaking, Paddle boarding, jet skiing in Intercostal waterways not affected
-Visit Aquariums — Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, Sarasota or South Florida Museum, Bradenton
-Art galleries on Anna Maria Island — Artists Guild Gallery, Studio at Gulf & Pine, Island Gallery West
-Walk, bike or bird watch at a nearby preserve — Robinson Preserve, Perico Preserve
-Rent or charter a boat
-Horseback riding
-golf, mini put, adventure and obstacle courses that are outside the reach of the airborne toxins
Any questions or for additional information please call us Anna Maria Island Condo Rentals
Links & Sources: 
Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission —
Mote Marine Laboratory Inc —
Note: Anna Maria Island Condo Rentals offers the above company names and affiliated links as suggestions only. We are not receiving commissions from the above and are listing only to assist our guests. We recommend services that we or close friends and family have experienced.
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