80 mile-long red tide bloom still evident in northeast Gulf of Mexico
Karenia brevis, the Florida red tide organism, was detected in background to medium concentrations in several water samples analyzed this week from offshore of Hernando and Pasco counties and in background concentrations in one sample collected offshore of Okaloosa County. Several additional samples collected this week offshore of Pinellas County ranged from background to low concentrations.
Satellite images from the Optical Oceanography Laboratory at the University of South Florida show a patchy bloom approximately 80 miles long and up to 50 miles wide 40 to 90 miles offshore between Dixie and southern Pasco counties in northwest Florida. Although satellite images are not available for regions offshore of Pinellas County, sampling confirmed K. brevis populations at depth 33 miles west of Caladesi Island and 13 miles west of Madeira Beach, both offshore of Pinellas County. This bloom has caused an ongoing fish kill in the northeast Gulf of Mexico. FWC’s Fish Kill Hotline has received reports of thousands of dead and moribund benthic reef fish including various snapper and grouper species, hogfish, grunts, crabs, flounder, bull sharks, lionfish, baitfish, eel, sea snakes, tomtates, lizardfish, filefish, octopus, and triggerfish. Reports of water discoloration have been received and respiratory irritation has been reported offshore in the bloom patch.
Additional samples collected throughout Florida this week did not contain red tide.