Marine scientists are putting out a warning for Sarasota County beachgoers. Red tide could cause severe respiratory problems for those with asthma or COPD.

It was a postcard day at Siesta Beach. With the sugar-white sand and turquoise water, you would think that everything is perfect. But looks can be deceiving.

Zion, 3, has not stopping coughing during this vacation and it has his mother concerned.

“My son Zion has asthma and I’ve had to give him his albuterol treatments every day since we’ve been here,” said Lady Collins.

This week, numerous agencies are warning of a large red tide bloom off Sarasota County.

“I don’t know what it is, but I have this tickle in my throat and I can’t get rid of it,” said beachgoer Daniel Collins.

Red tide is a harmful algae that causes fish kills. It also releases a toxin into the air that can cause severe respiratory issues to humans. Those with asthma or COPD are especially at risk.

Officials say historically, it’s common to see red tide blooms around late summer to early winter. A Mote Marine lab researcher said it’s odd to see such a large bloom in June.

“It’s concerning for public health because there’s more people going to the beach and therefore, more people potentially exposed to the aerosolized toxin and that’s why it becomes a problem,” said Dr. Tracy Fanara from Mote Marine Lab.

“We actually bring our great-grandma here because she has nowhere else to go, and it’s really sad for her because she has respiratory problems, so she can’t come out here and enjoy the beach,” said 12-year-old Katerina Stevens.

Red tide could also cause skin irritation if you swim out in the water.

“This is our vacation, we don’t want to deal with it,” said tourist Bud Gilbert. 

Officials urge you to be prepared before you come to the beach. But red tide is patchy, so if you have trouble at one area, just move to another beach.

If you see fish kills, report it to FWC.

It also helps to be aware of beach conditions. You can ask your lifeguard or you can check out the beach conditions report before you head out the door.

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