Red tide hits Sarasota beaches

6:07 PM, Oct 4, 2012   |    comments
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Sarasota, Florida - Sarasota County crews on Thursday clean up dead fish at Blind Pass Park. It's one of several spots in Southern Sarasota, Charlotte and Lee counties impacted by red tide.

Mike Lange is using a metal detector at the beach and it doesn't take him long to also detect the symptoms of red tide.

"Just making my lungs burn a bit, scratching in the back of my throat, causing me to cough," he says.

Scientists at Mote Marine Laboratory study red tide year around, but they're keeping a close watch on this event. It's centered near Charlotte Harbor and it stretches for miles.

Mote has been taking water samples to measure the harmful algae bloom's strength and on Friday, Mote and USF researchers will launch underwater gliders.

"The USF robot will be going farther off shore, and ours will be staying closer in shore, with the idea that in tandem they'll be monitoring our water for us; to really get a handle on how big this thing is, how extensive it is," says Mote Senior Scientist Barbara Kirkpatrick.

So how can you avoid red tide? Well, a website sponsored by Mote and a team of lifeguards make it easy to find out current beach conditions.

Twice a day, lifeguards on Florida's west coast, report what's going on at their locations including wind, waves and indicators of red tide.

At Lido Beach, lifeguard Joe Securo uses a smart phone to tap in information and so far at Lido-things are good.  "The respiratory irritation would be none," he says choosing a selection from the screen.

And Securo, who works long hours watching people play in the waves, would certainly like to wave goodbye to red tide.

"It's a miserable feeling," he says. "It's not a good thing."

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