Waters completely free of red tide remain a distant dream off of Anna Maria Island.
The latest report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission released Friday indicated that water samples in Manatee still contain traces of Karenia brevis algae. But more than half of the samples taken this week did not contain the harmful algae.
Five samples, however, reported background to low concentrations. FWC officials said background concentrations (between 0 and 1,000 cells per liter) were found along Atlas Street, while samples taken from near Palma Sola Bay Bridge and School Key were both very low (between 1,000 and 10,000 cells per liter.)
FWC experts said the strongest sampling of red tide came from both the Rod & Reel Pier and the Longboat Pass Boat Ramp, where they discovered low concentrations (between 10,000 and 100,000 cells per liter) of K. brevis algae.
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Pinellas and Hillsborough counties remain mostly unaffected by red tide, with only background concentrations reported, but the FWC said Sarasota County continues to be more severely affected than other coastal counties.
In nearly 40 samples taken from Sarasota waters, only nine of them did not contain traces of K. brevis algae, officials said. The samples ranged from background to medium concentrations (between 100,000 and 1,000,000 cells per liter.) Only one sample from South Lido Park revealed a high concentration (more than 1,000,000 cells per liter) of red tide, though.
There were no fish kills reported in Southwest Florida this week, according to the FWC, but respiratory issues were reported in both Manatee and Sarasota counties. Experts say very low concentrations are enough to cause possible breathing issues.
Red tide’s return may be strongest, however, in Collier County, where experts said they collected five offshore samples of red tide that indicated high concentrations of the harmful algae.