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NWS issues red tide respiratory irritation beach hazard for Pinellas, Manatee and Sarasota counties

Statement in effect through 10 p.m. Friday
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Posted at 11:28 AM, Jul 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-29 11:28:43-04

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla.  — A Beach Hazard Statement is in place for Pinellas, coastal Manatee and coastal Sarasota counties because of red tide. The National Weather Service issued the advisory on Thursday morning just before noon.


Complete Coverage: Red Tide in Tampa Bay


A Beach Hazard Statement informs beachgoers and local authorities of a multitude of hazards. In this case, NWS is warning of the respiratory irritation that can occur from red tide.

The hazard is in place through 10 p.m. on Friday.

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In its latest red tide update, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission noted that in the past week K. brevis was observed at low to high concentrations in and offshore of Pinellas County in 23 samples, background to high concentrations in Manatee County in 13 samples and background to high concentrations in and offshore of Sarasota County in 32 samples.

Planning a beach day? Here's how to check if red tide has been reported

Red tide, or harmful algal bloom, is a higher-than-normal concentration of a microscopic alga (plantlike organism). In Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, the species that causes most red tides is Karenia brevis, often abbreviated as K. brevis.

FWC says wave action can break open K. brevis cells and release brevetoxins into the air, which can cause respiratory irritation.

NWS says symptoms may include coughing, sneezing, and tearing eyes. People with asthma, emphysema or any chronic lung disease may be more sensitive. Irritation may vary by the beach and throughout the day.