A large patchy bloom of Karenia brevis, the Florida red tide organism, has been detected off the shores of Southwest Florida, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.
"The bloom extends from Pinellas County to North Collier County, but seems to be fizzling," said Eric Milbrandt, Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation's Marine Lab director. "Observations by our scientists indicate the powerful winds and heavy seas generated by (the storm) Sandy over the weekend and the recent cold front has caused many of the cells to rupture."
Recent samples collected along the gulf-side of central and southern Lee County indicate K. brevis concentrations range from "not present" to "very low b," with the highest concentration in the Captiva Island region. Other samples collected alongshore Manatee County indicate the K. brevis concentrations range from "low a" to "medium," with the highest concentration in the lower Tampa Bay region, according to FWRI.
Rick Bartleson, Ph.D. sits at the SCCF Marine labs new microplate reader which allows the lab to count and read concentrations of algal toxins like brevetoxin (red tide) as well as measure indicators of seagrass stress.
"There is still the chance of extremely low respiratory irritation to people, but the cell counts are consistently lower this week," said Milbrandt. "The salinity at Woodring Point last week were in the low 20s, which is not a favorable condition for sustaining red tide."
However, as flows from S-79 decreased the salinities are back up around 30 and regionally it appears the wind and rough seas have knocked the red tide bloom back considerably, according to Milbrandt.
While there have been fish kills offshore and some of the fish have ended up on the beaches, Milbrandt said the SCCF Marine Lab has not received reports recently of dead fish.