SARASOTA -- Mote Marine Laboratory officials said Wednesday they are closely monitoring red tide algae levels after slight increases were noticed in seawater samples in the past two weeks.
K. brevis, the single-celled, harmful algae that causes red tide, occurs naturally in background concentrations in the Gulf, but at high levels their toxins affect marine life and people. It can kill fish and cause respiratory irritation among beachgoers, such as coughing, sneezing or a scratchy throat. That's an annoyance to most people, but people with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or other chronic respiratory conditions should avoid areas with red tide algae, since the toxins can trigger symptoms.
On Monday samples off the coast of Turtle Beach and Siesta Key tested with low levels and samples near Longboat Key tested with very low levels, so slightly higher than normal.
As of Tuesday evening, Mote's Beach Conditions Reporting System was not showing respiratory irritation among beachgoers or showing dead fish along monitored beaches in Sarasota or Manatee counties.
Mote's Beach Conditions Reporting System provides shoreline observations as often as twice daily at mote.org/beaches.