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Red tide bloom worsens at Anna Maria beaches with ‘intense’ irritation, dead fish

With reports of dead fish on the sand and “intense” amounts of breathing irritation, the effects of red tide amplified this week around Anna Maria Island and Manatee County’s coastline.

Blooms of the toxic algae were carried near shore in October and have impacted area beaches on and off ever since.

Manatee County’s Gulf beaches saw a brief reprieve from the bloom’s effects around the holidays. But the often patchy nature of red tide blooms, along with their ability to be moved quickly by wind and currents, means that conditions can change rapidly.

Several weeks ago, red tide conditions were worse for Pinellas County beaches. But now the denser patches of algae has drifted southward into Manatee County waters, following predictions by University of South Florida’s Ocean Circulation Lab.

This week, slight to intense levels of respiratory irritation were reported by lifeguards at Coquina Beach and Manatee Public Beach, and slight to moderate irritation was reported on the north end of Anna Maria Island. Dead fish were also reported around the island.