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Massive red tide bloom lingering in Sarasota County could be ‘every bit as bad as 2018’

Red tide remains a threat as Tropical Storm Fred failed to generate enough wind to push the bloom away from area shores, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program Director Dave Tomasko said Thursday to members of the Manatee Tiger Bay Club.

Red tide has plagued Sarasota, Manatee and Tampa Bay for months, and although samples from northern Anna Maria Island have shown improvement, Tomasko said a massive bloom in south Sarasota County could mean local woes may not be over yet.

Tomasko said that there is a red tide bloom about 50 square miles in size off the coast of Manasota Beach near Casey Key and the Venice area. The bloom stretches out 15 miles from shore, and he fears conditions could worsen if winds blow inland, reminiscent of 2018 when red tide devastated marine life and the local economy.

“If that moves up here, it is going to be every bit as bad as 2018,” Tomasko said. “Maybe even a little bit more localized.”