Learning about Red Tide & The “Seaweed Blob”

| April 1, 2023

If you are considering a vacation here on Anna Maria Island, there is a good chance you did a Google search about the area. Two things that have been in the news lately related to our area are Red Tide and a large mass of seaweed. It’s easy to look at headlines and get the wrong impression about the conditions here. Let’s look at some facts that can help you make an informed decision.

What is Red Tide

An algal bloom is sometimes called Red Tide. Interestingly, there isn’t actually a red color to it. The name refers to how it sometimes kills fish. The term “red tide” is used for blooms of any of several species of dinoflagellates. The current bloom is created by Karenia brevis, a marine dinoflagellate commonly found in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

If the concentration is high enough, fish kills may occur. In addition, it is possible that some visitors could experience respiratory irritation.

Where is the Red Tide Bloom

The good news is that the algal bloom currently in the waters near Anna Maria Island is at a moderate level.  The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission tracks Red Tide and has an up-to-date interactive map you can always check. When viewing the map, keep in mind that most of our luxury vacation homes are located on the north end of the island. In addition, the Ocean Circulation Lab of the nearby University of South Florida has an updated forecast map that you can access here.  

Another great resource for planning your beach visits is the Beach Conditions Reporting System operated by Mote Marine Laboratory. This is a one-stop shop for weather, tide, UV, debris and other factors. The report for Anna Maria Island can be found here.

The Seaweed Blob

When we hear the word “blob” is may bring up images of something resembling a lump of gelatin or a horror movie. The so-called seaweed blob is actually a bloom of sargassum seaweed.

The floating mass is actually beneficial when it is at sea. According to the Sargassum Information Hub, “This floating habitat provides food and protection for fishes, mammals, marine birds, crabs, and more. It serves as a critical habitat for threatened loggerhead sea turtles and as a nursery area for a variety of commercially important fishes such as mahi mahi, jacks, and amberjacks.”

It becomes something of a problem if large amounts of seaweed come ashore and aren’t mitigated. Anna Maria Island actively works to keep our beaches clean, using mechanical rakes or heavy equipment if necessary.

One great resource is the Live Beaches website. They provide a collection of livestream cameras that you can watch online. You can find the cameras for Anna Maria Island here. The previously mentioned Beach Conditions Reporting System website is also an excellent resource.

We want your vacation here on Anna Maria Island to be a great experience. If you have any questions or want more information about our beach conditions, our local experts are ready to help. Just contact us and we will help you find everything you are looking for. We can’t wait to host your next vacation.

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