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Red tide maintains presence in Manatee County as National Weather Service issues beach hazard statem

Bradenton Beach resident Frank Harrison went on his daily walk Monday morning along Coquina Beach with his wife, Priscilla Von Ahnen.

The couple strolled toward Leffis Key where they came across about 30 dead fish tangled in mangroves -- casualties of toxic red tide.

Most were mullet, but the 71-year-old said he also noticed a red fish and a snook.

"It affects them really bad. ... I'm not sure why," Harrison said of the fish. "It starts burning your eyes and choking you. ... On the beach side, it wasn't like that. It smelled. ... It is the red tide but it's just not as strong on that side."

The harmful algal bloom's presence remains in Manatee County, causing the National Weather Service to issue a beach hazards statement for the county and Charlotte County bay regions through Wednesday evening.

Those affected by red tide may experience coughing, sneezing and tearing eyes, according to the NWS.

"People with respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema and other pulmonary diseases may be more sensitive," read the statement. "Irritation may vary locally and throughout the day. If you experience uncomfortable symptoms consider going to an unaffected beach nearby."

According to the latest red tide status report by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, red tide algae was detected Nov. 20 in medium concentrations offshore of the Rod & Reel Pier in the city of Anna Maria.

"We're not seeing any fish kills from our area," said Frank McCloy, FWC media relations, of where the medium concentrations of red tide algae was detected in Anna Maria. "There's no current ones right now that we're monitoring, that I've seen."

A new red tide status report will be published Wednesday.

"That area is really influenced by tidal flow and so water moves into the bay with the tide and then out of the bay when the tide goes out," said Alina Corcoran, a research scientist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in St. Petersburg. "The red tide population that's sitting at the mouth of Tampa Bay keeps flushing in and out of the bay. Last week it got as far north as just after the Skyway fishing pier."

Over in Bradenton Beach, Harrison said the latest red tide outbreak on Anna Maria Island isn't that bad. The longtime resident has seen worse.

"It used to hit so bad that nobody drove to the beach," he said.

Harrison said this week he's seen people plant chairs on the beach.

"Apparently, it's not bothering people that bad," he said. "At least in this area."

Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter@AmarisCastillo.