Red tide has reached Sarasota County. Hundreds of dead fish line Siesta Key shore.
A ‘No Swim” advisory has been issued for five beaches in Sarasota County by the Sarasota County Department of Health.
The advisory was issued late Thursday afternoon for the following beaches:
- Lido Casino Beach
- Brohard Beach
- Venice Pier Beach
- Siesta Beach
- Longboat Key Beach
While the beaches will be open, officials caution beach-goers that wading, swimming and water recreation are not recommended while the advisory is in place. The advisory was issued after levels of enterococcus bacteria in water quality tests performed on these beaches on Thursday were higher than acceptable limits.
Health officials believe the source of the elevated bacteria in the water is natural, not man-made. Increased bird tracks and wrack lines of decaying algae and dead fish as a result of the red tide were observed and believed to have contributed to the elevated bacteria.
Official also believe recent rain played a factor because it washes bacteria from birds, pet feces and wildlife into the water.
Signs have been posted at each beach.
“When these bacteria are found at high levels in recreational waters, there is a risk that some people may become ill. People especially those who are very young, elderly or who have a weak immune system who swallow water while swimming can get stomach or intestinal illnesses. ” said health department officials Tom Higginbotham, in a news release.
Officials also warn that it is unsafe to eat shellfish such as crabs and shrimp caught in the immediate area of any these beaches. Finfish, however, can be eaten if they are caught live and filleted before cooking.
The water quality is expected to be tested again on Friday.
Enterococcus bacteria can come from natural and human-made sources, including pet waste, livestock, birds, wildlife, storm water runoff and human sewage, according to the health department. There have been no sewage spills reported within one mile of these beaches in the past month.