Red tide returns to Sarasota

Red tide map shows spots in Southwest Florida.
Photo Courtesy of

After it looked like red tide had disappeared from Florida’s West Coast, the algae bloom has returned in certain areas.

It was a short-lived celebration for some Floridians before scientists rediscovered Karenia brevis, the red tide organism, in Sarasota. According to FWC, “high” cell concentrations (1,000,000 thousand brevis cells per liter) were observed in Sarasota County and offshore of Collier County. 

Since the extensive algae bloom that began back in October 2017, red tide has decrease or completely diminished in many areas along the coast. This past year red tide was reported as one of the worst the shore has experienced in a decade.

One of the most frequent symptoms people experience during red tide are respiratory issues such as itchy throat, coaching and hard of breathing. These conditions are especially harmful for people who have emphysema or asthma.

According to the city of Sarasota website, the county has collected more than 225 tons of red tide debris since Aug. 1.

Officials with Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, which is located in Sarasota, recently met with Gov, Ron DeSantis along with FWC, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and a few other environmental agencies to discuss Florida’s water quality and new advancements in MOTE’s technologies.

With years of extensive red tide research MOTE has produced effective monitoring tools such as the Beach Conditions Reporting System, and other technologies like its ozone system, which is being field-tested for red tide mitigation in high-impact areas.

Michael P. Crosby, CEO and president of MOTE, issued a statement concerning their efforts on how to tackle red tide. According to MOTE, Crosby said, “Continued funding for the ongoing and highly productive cooperative red tide program between Mote and FWC is essential … Mote is asking the Florida Legislature to establish this five-year Initiative as an independent and coordinated effort among private and public research entities to develop prevention, control, and mitigation techniques of red tide impacts on the coastal environments and communities in this state.”

DeSantis announced at the conference his new executive order which will seek $2.5 billion in funding and will direct DEP to appoint a chief of science officer and to move forward with new and existing projects.

With major hits in tourism and marine life deaths over the course of this lengthy red tide scourge, and with more funding and advanced technology, the hopes for many Floridian’s is to see a less aggressive algae bloom.