Longboat Key’s Whitney Beach among cleanest in Florida

In recent years, Siesta Key Beach, Caladesi Island and Fort De Soto Park have all been named “America’s Best Beach” by Dr. Beach. This year, however, Longboat Key received the top honors for ‘cleanest’ beach.

The Healthy Beaches Program website posted the results of the most bacteria free beaches for the year, and among them are Longboat Key, Whitney Beach (north end of Longboat Key) and Sunset Beach in Tarpon Springs.

The bacteria found in the gulf water is called enterococci, which is found in the intestines of warm-blooded creatures like humans, birds and dogs. The bacteria can cause gastroenteritis, flu-like symptoms and nausea, and because of that, the health department regularly samples beach water, usually every other week, looking for indicators of the bacteria. The results are posted on the state’s Healthy Beaches Program website.

A “good” rating on a test result means no more than 35 bacteria in 100 milliliters of water. “Moderate” is between 36 and 104 and anything higher is considered “poor.”  A poor report is usually followed with an advisory to stay out of the water and additional testing.

The Bay Area beach with the most problems is Ben T. Davis Beach in Hillsborough County, located on the eastern end of the Courtney Campbell Causeway. Between April 2012 and 2013, Ben T. Davis had nine poor ratings, six moderate and 13 advisories.

Across Tampa Bay, in Pinellas County, it’s a similar story at Courtney Campbell Causeway Beach. In the last year, it’s seen three poor ratings, six moderate and one advisory.

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