Sarasota County

Scientists don't know yet how Hurricane Michael impacted red tide

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) - Mote marine scientists are still trying to figure out Hurricane Michael’s impact on red tide.

The powerful storm put a halt to their research and they don't know if the bloom has dissipated or gotten worse.     

Dominique Higgins and her mother Carmela Tringali had planned this girl's trip for a while. But this summer's red tide outbreak gave them a scare.

"When I saw that, I was going to try to cancel the trip,” said Higgins.

They took a chance and it paid off. Hurricane Michael didn't come, and the beach looks beautiful for now. But she does worry about the coming days.

"Definitely don't want to get sick going home. It is a long flight back so we don't want to be getting on the plane getting sick,” said Higgins.

Just to the north in Pinellas County, dead fish have appeared on beaches. 

Across Sarasota County, beach goers have seen respiratory issues. Many want to know what's next?

Hurricane Michael put a halt to Mote Marine lab's research.

Scientists haven't been able to get satellite imagery of the bloom. They also have had to postpone experiments to monitor red tide toxins in the air.

It's possible the storm could've dissipated the bloom or the rains could have made the bloom bigger.

“Anytime you have a large storm and it can bring in lots of rainfall, that can bring in a lot of nutrients to the coastal system so that is a possibility,” said Stephannie Kettle with Mote Marine Lab.

“It's a waiting game because we want to see how far those toxins travel and its really based on where the bloom is.”

Some beach goers are being optimistic and taking advantage of the moment.

"We didn't have a lot of winds and rain from Michael so I don't know,” said beach goer Tami Stone.

But they urge folks to be cautious just in case if they plan to make an upcoming beach trip.

“I'd tell them to watch the weather first,” said Tringali.

Mote Marine scientists expect to have some more answers next week when they resume testing.

In the meantime, they do encourage you to stay away from any sea foam you may spot, because there could potentially be high concentrations of red tide in that foam.     


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