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Longboat beaches busy as red tide scatters

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

Following the red tide bloom that besieged island beaches from August through recent weeks, a return to ‘normal’ is more than welcome. That is what is occurring as scientists report the once 150-mile long algal bloom has diminished into scattered patches more typical of years past.

According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists, the tide is far less pervasive and concentrated than over the past months. Another indicator is the number of red dots that signify high levels of red tide on county maps and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have also diminished along the Gulf Coast.

Part of the reason have been prevailing winds and currents as well as the cooling temperatures.

For Longboat Key Club General Manager Jeff Mayers, the beach environment over Thanksgiving was perfect for visitors and guests and that resulted in a packed beach.

Mayers said he has seen positive trends in his occupancy rates and reservations at the Inn on the Beach Resort and he credits that to both the favorable news about the red tide, the enjoyable conditions on the beach as of late, as well as the “cold and nasty weather up north in many of our feeder markets.”

Mayers said that the additional flights initiated by Sarasota Airport to several new cities over the past months has helped.

While there still is red tide offshore, scientists are hoping that the bloom does not simply linger to be fed by nutrient-rich runoff in the spring.

Meanwhile, Mote Marine Laboratory has been busy with its newly-initiated red tide research institute in an effort to apply its science to find pragmatic and implementable solutions to combat the algae blooms. That effort has been fueled by grants and state money and the laboratory has been investigating both clay sediment applications as well as utilizing ozone to interrupt the red tide.

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