SARASOTA COUNTY (WFLA) — Officials with the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County have posted signs, warning the public of red tide at beaches throughout the area.

Last week, officials said they were seeing elevated concentrations of red tide at Turtle Beach, Nokomis Beach, North Jetty, Venice Beach, Service Club Park, Venice Fishing Pier, Brohard Beach, and Caspersen Beach.

Visitors at North Jetty on Monday could smell the stench coming from the Gulf waters but were thankful to see the algal bloom wasn’t yet causing any fish kills in the area.

Scout Rogers has lived in the area for the last 10 years and experienced devastating red tide blooms in the past.

“It impacts everybody. You can’t swim, the wildlife gets all screwed up, the fish die and the smell is terrible,” Rogers said. “It is all the nutrients and everything washing into the water.”

Rogers said he’s noticed murky water and debris floating throughout the inlet. Beachgoers at nearby Nokomis Beach told us the same thing regarding the water clarity.

“In September when we came before the hurricane, it was beautiful. Clean and beautiful. It is okay now, but a little murky,” seasonal resident Carmela Farroni said.

Scientists around the region have been keeping a close eye on the impacts of the storm on the water quality in the area.

Environmental engineer and hydrologist Dr. Tracy Fanara recalled the long-lasting Florida red tide bloom that the region saw following Hurricane Irma in 2017. She said Irma and Ian had some similarities.

“People in Tampa Bay saw the water was basically gone — the wind from Ian brought the water offshore. We saw the same thing with Irma, the water was brought offshore and the path of the storm was to the east of Tampa Bay,” said Dr. Fanara. “What may have happened is an upwelling event. Basically, when top waters are displaced, it allows for bottom waters to rise to the surface and those bottom waters are full of nutrients, they are colder, and with those nutrients are possibly some cells of Florida red tide.”

“An event like this could possibly be one way of initiation for a Florida red tide bloom,” Dr. Fanara added, “so we were watching very closely to see if we did have an increase in cell concentrations of Florida red tide because we do get a bloom every year and events like this can be one possible way a bloom is initiated.”

In the days following Hurricane Ian’s landfall, satellite images from NOAA captured dark-colored water flushing into the gulf from multiple inlets throughout the southwest portion of the state, including Venice.

Courtesy: NOAA

“Seeing those pictures of that dark water coming out was not a surprise because we had a lot of rainfall, a lot of runoff coming into our coastal waters and the question is, how much of that was nutrients? It is just common sense that there would be nutrients associated with a lot of those particles coming into the coastal waters, however, there is a lot of other things as well,” said Dr. Fanara.

Officials plan to continue monitoring the conditions and changing water quality throughout the region.

The Florida Dept. of Health in Sarasota County shared the following recommendations while red tide is still present:

  • Do not swim around dead fish.
  • If you have chronic respiratory problems, consider staying away from the beach as red tide can affect your breathing.
  • Do not harvest or eat molluscan shellfish and distressed or dead fish. If fish are healthy, rinse fillets with tap or bottled water and throw out the guts.
  • Keep pets and livestock away from water, sea foam, and dead sea life.
  • Residents living in beach areas who experience respiratory symptoms are advised to close windows and run the air conditioner (ensuring that the A/C filter is maintained according to the manufacturer’s specifications).
  • If outdoors, residents may choose to wear paper filter masks, especially if onshore winds are blowing.

DOH Sarasota’s weekly sample results are posted online.