FWC: Florida red tide organism persists in Southwest Florida

A double crested cormorant recovers from the effects of red tide poisoning in an outdoor enclosure at the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife on Sanibel Island.

A red tide bloom persists along the Southwest Florida coast, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Karenia brevis is a natural part of the ecosystem, but it can bloom to high concentrations when conditions favor it. Over the past week, samples were collected offshore in Collier, Lee, Hillsborough, Sarasota, Charlotte and Monroe counties.

A fish kill was reported at Big Pine Key in Monroe County on Feb. 7. Slight respiratory irritation was reported in Sarasota County at Manasota Beach two days earlier, according to the commission.

Over the next three days, forecasts by the USF-FWC Collaboration for Prediction of Red Tides for Pinellas to Monroe counties predict "net northwestern transport of surface waters and minimal transport of subsurface waters," said a report from the commission. 

Fish kills can happen when counts reach 10,000 cells per liter.

A story published in December reported counts of 1 million cells per liter of Karenia brevis, the organism that causes red tide in this region, and higher reports in Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota and Manatee counties. 

This bloom is thought to have started in October as several birds with red tide poisoning were taken to the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, or CROW, in Sanibel. 

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More:Red tide bloom spreading out along Southwest Florida coast

News-Press reporter Chad Gillis contributed to this report.