Published: Friday, October 14, 2011 at 2:30 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 14, 2011 at 3:57 p.m.
ENGLEWOOD - Thousands of dead fish have washed ashore on a small stretch of shore from Englewood Beach to Stump Pass due to a red tide bloom.
But Sarasota-area residents should not cancel any trips to the beach just yet.
Ocean currents are shifting again and most of the dead fish — along with the red tide bloom that killed them — will be heading away from Sarasota County.
A red tide bloom — caused by toxic algae — is lingering offshore from Englewood south to Sanibel Island. The bloom is forecast to move to the southeast over the weekend and could get pushed out to sea by Sunday or Monday, said Jason Lenes, a research associate with the Center for Prediction of Red Tides at the University of South Florida.
After a 5-year hiatus, red tide began to proliferate for the first time about three weeks ago off the coast of Manasota and Venice beaches. The bloom moved south to Lee County and then slightly north again this week. The bloom reportedly killed thousands of fish, most of which are floating offshore.
Karenia brevis, the algae that causes red tide, produces a powerful fish-killing toxin that also makes people on the beach cough and wheeze.
When winds are blowing onshore during a red tide bloom, people with respiratory illness, such as asthma, should avoid the beach.
For those north of Englewood beach, the picture is not as grim as earlier. There are no reports of dead fish on any other beaches in the region. The red tide irritant has also not been reported north of Englewood, meaning other beaches in Sarasota and Manatee counties are likely unaffected.
Several residents in Englewood reported the fish kills to the state wildlife hot line on Friday. Among the dead species were pinfish, catfish, lady fish and red fish.