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Water-Related News

Red tide bloom spreading out along Southwest Florida coast

DEC.29th » A red tide bloom that's been lingering along the Southwest Florida coast for the past two months has spread out and grown more dense in recent days.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is reporting counts of 1 million cells per liter of Karenia brevis (the organism that causes red tides in this region) and higher in Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota and Manatee counties.

"I got 2 million cells per liter just south of Sanibel," said Rick Bartleson, a water quality scientists at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation who takes samples and reports them to fish and wildlife. "I also found 2 million cells per liter about a-mile-and-a-half south of Sanibel, and all of the samples I took (in other areas along the coast) had Karenia."

Fish kills can happen when counts reach 10,000 cells per liter and have been reported in Lee, Charlotte and Sarasota, although Bartleson said the strongest part of the blooms is offshore.

Karenia brevis is a natural part of the ecosystem but can bloom to high concentrations when conditions favor it.

Blooms typically start off around Sarasota and work their way south toward Collier County and Marco Island.

This bloom probably started in October as several cormorants with red tide poisoning were taken to the Center for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, or CROW, on Sanibel then.