Florida’s coastal waters are entirely free of red tide algal blooms, according to the latest round of tests conducted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The report marks a new low for red tide levels in Florida since the most recent bloom began in October 2017.
The Karenia Brevis algae that causes red tide was only observed in four Southwest Florida water samples over the past week. The samples contained extremely low numbers of algae cells per liter, far below concentrations that would cause a harmful bloom.
Background concentrations (1,000 cells per liter or less) of red tide were observed off Hillsborough and Lee counties and in Collier County, and very low concentrations (1,000 to 10,000 cells per liter) were observed off Monroe County.
K. brevis was not observed in northwest Florida or along the east coast over the past week.
The most recent samples show that K. Brevis is not present in waters off Anna Maria Island and Manatee County. That’s a decrease since last week, when the algae was present at background levels near Longboat Pass.
The latest red tide bloom began in October 2017 and swamped Anna Maria Island and other Manatee County beaches for months, polluting the air, killing fish and other marine life and harming local businesses. The most obvious symptoms of red tide have declined in recent months.
Over the past week, no fish kills suspected to be related to red tide were reported. Respiratory irritation was reported in Manatee, Sarasota and Lee counties.
Short-term red tide tracking maps produced by the College of Marine Science at University of South Florida and the Florida Wildlife Research Institute predict that waters in the Tampa Bay region will remain red-tide-free over the next three days.