Ding dong, red tide is gone. Red tide come no more, we say, red tide stay away, we pray.
Or that’s the hope anyway, but the latest report released Friday is good news nonetheless.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, in its latest round of testing for Karenia brevis, the organism responsible for red tide, found no presence to only background levels in waters off Manatee County shores.
Last week, FWC reported that remnants of red tide were persisting, “although conditions continue to improve in most areas.”
The lone exception last week was Manatee County, where samplings found a lingering medium to high presence of the organism, while most area beaches to the north and south were enjoying a downfall with low samplings.
Manatee was the only county to have a “background” sample found, which simply means not present or less than 1,000 cells.
The county has been dealing with more than 1 million cells per liter for months. The remaining two test sites in Manatee County showed no presence.
No fish kills were reported, though FWC reports there were some reported respiratory irritation in Manatee County during the week.
FWC did not provide a midweek update on Wednesday because of Christmas, but launched a new map showcasing daily sample testing sites with pertinent information for each site.
The map is updated daily, but due to the holidays, the last samplings recorded were taken Dec. 26 with “not present to low background” dots symbolizing what many hope will signal the end of a prolonged event that began in October 2017.
As of Friday, FWC’s report remained good news with only a “background” presence.
Manatee County began to feel the brunt of it by August and its relentless presence produced massive fish kills and took the lives of several dozen manatees and dolphins, as well as hundreds of sea turtles.
It was just a mere few weeks ago that red tide invaded Robinson Preserve, killing thousands of mullet which were preparing to spawn in the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. One day later, Dec. 5, it killed hundreds of catfish in Palma Sola Bay.
Testing sites from St. Petersburg to Sarasota all showed “not present” samplings, signaling the first time in 15 months there was no sign of the organism along the southwest Gulf Coast.