CHARLOTTE COUNTY (SNN) - The Florida Department of Health in Charlotte County has issued a Health Alert for the presence of a red tide bloom near Whidden Key; E of (Lemon Bay) and Buccaneer Bend; W of (ICW).

This is in response to a water sample taken on Monday, November 7, 2022.

The public should exercise caution in and around these areas.

The Suncoast has seen many red tide advisories in recent weeks. 

According to the FDOH's Healthy Beaches website, the bacteria levels in Sarasota and Manatee Counties are safe again. 

Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:

  • Look for informational signage posted at most beaches.
  • Stay away from the water, and do not swim in waters with dead fish.
  • Those with chronic respiratory problems should be especially cautious and stay away from this location as red tide can affect your breathing.
  • Do not harvest or eat molluscan shellfish or distressed or dead fish from this location. If caught live and healthy, finfish are safe to eat as long as they are filleted, and the guts are discarded. Rinse fillets with tap or bottled water.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and fresh water if you have had recent contact with red tide.
  • Keep pets and livestock away and out of the water, sea foam and dead sea life. If your pet swims in waters with red tide, wash it as soon as possible.
  • Residents living in beach areas are advised to close windows and run the air conditioner, making sure that the A/C filter is maintained according to manufacturer's specifications.
  • If outdoors near an affected location, residents may choose to wear masks, especially if onshore winds are blowing.

Red tide is one type of harmful algal bloom caused by high concentrations of the toxic dinoflagellate Karenia brevis (K. brevis), a type of microscopic algae found in the Gulf of Mexico.

Red tide typically forms naturally offshore, commonly in late summer or early fall, and is carried into coastal waters by winds and currents.

Once inshore, these opportunistic organisms can use nearshore nutrient sources to fuel their growth.

Blooms typically last into winter or spring, but in some cases, can endure for more than one year.

Find current information about Florida’s water quality status and public health notifications for harmful algal blooms and beach conditions by visiting ProtectingFloridaTogether.gov and floridahealth.gov/environmental-health/aquatic-toxinsProtecting Florida Together is the state’s joint effort to provide statewide water quality information to prioritize environmental transparency and commitment to actionFor local shellfish harvesting status, visit the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission collects and analyzes red tide samples and results are updated multiple times daily (MyFWC.com/redtidemap/); status updates are issued twice weekly during blooms (Red Tide Current Status). To hear a recording about red tide conditions throughout the state, call the toll-free hotline at 866-300-9399.

To report fish kills, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute via the FWC Reporter App, call 1-800-636-0511, or report online at https://myfwc.com/research/saltwater/health/fish-kills-hotline/.

Report symptoms from exposure to a harmful algal bloom or any aquatic toxin to the Florida Poison Information Center. Call 1-800-222-1222 to speak to a poison specialist immediately.

Contact your veterinarian if you believe your pet has become ill after consuming or having contact with red tide-affected water or contaminated marine life.

If you have other health questions or concerns about red tide blooms, please call the Florida Department of Health in Charlotte County at 941-624-7200.