News Releases

Naturally occurring red tide confirmed in southwest Florida

News Release

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Media contact: Kelly Richmond, 727-502-4784

Red tide is a naturally occurring microscopic algae that has been documented along Florida’s Gulf Coast since the 1840’s and occurs every year. Blooms, or higher-than-normal concentrations, of the Florida red tide alga, Karenia brevis, frequently occur in the Gulf of Mexico at this time of year (late summer or early fall). Red tide begins in the Gulf of Mexico 10 to 40 miles offshore and can be transported inshore by winds and currents.

Researchers at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) are currently working with the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, the Florida Department of Health, Mote Marine Laboratory, the University of South Florida, NOAA, and other partners to monitor a bloom of K. brevis currently localized in Southwest Florida.

FWC has documented several reports of fish kills in parts of Pinellas, Manatee and Sarasota counties. Water samples collected on September 19 and 20, in response to fish kill reports from Manatee County, showed the first “high” cell concentrations (>1 million cells per liter) of K. brevis since April. During the past two weeks, K. brevis has been observed at lower concentrations in other samples collected in Southwest Florida from Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota, Lee and Collier counties.

The FWC currently has staff out in the field collecting water samples and investigating reports of fish kills.

Since September 13, 2016 FWC researchers have processed over 150 water samples from Southwest Florida and are working closely with partners to track red tide blooms to share information and develop products that help to inform both citizens and scientists about red tide conditions.

The FWC posts red tide status reports on Wednesdays and Fridays; to view this report and to track red tide blooms, visit To report fish kills, contact the FWC Fish Kill Hotline at 800-636-0511 or submit a report online.

Additional red tide resources:

FWC Facts:
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