| SARASOTA COUNTY – As a precaution, Sarasota County health officials have issued “No Swim” advisory for Bird Key Park Beach (Ringling Causeway). The amount of enterococcus bacteria found during water quality testing on Monday, Oct. 10 was outside acceptable limits. The beach remains open, but wading, swimming and water recreation is not recommended when no swim advisories advisory in place.
Some bacteria are naturally present in the environment. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found a link between health and water quality. Signage advising the public not to swim or engage in water recreation will stay in place until follow-up water testing results meet the EPA’s recreational water quality standards.
The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County has resampled the beach today, and expects those results late afternoon tomorrow.
Enterococcus bacteria can come from a variety of natural and human-made sources. These include pet waste, livestock, birds, land-dwelling and marine wildlife, stormwater runoff, and human sewage from failed septic systems and sewage spills.
The rapid response team from Sarasota County have determined the cause of the elevated bacteria levels is likely due to natural sources related to Hurricane Ian. The team observed a wrack line of decaying algae around the rocks and along the shoreline. Wrack lines, which provide food for shorebirds and wildlife, act as natural bacteria reservoirs.
Additionally, the significant rainfall associated with the storm may be contributing to the higher bacteria levels by washing accumulated pollutants from the land surface into waterways.
DOH-Sarasota Environmental Administrator Tom Higginbotham emphasizes that the Florida Healthy Beaches program protects beach goers when conditions are unsuitable for swimming. This is done by testing beach water weekly and providing up-to-date explanations of the results.
“When these bacteria are found at high levels in recreational waters, there is a risk that some people may become ill. People, especially those who are very young, elderly or who have a weak immune system that swallow water while swimming can get stomach or intestinal illnesses. If water contacts a cut or sore, people can get infections or rashes.” said Higginbotham. Local health officials emphasize that beaches remain open. However, residents and visitors are urged not to wade, swim, or engage in water recreation at this beach until the advisory is lifted. Additionally, you may encounter hurricane debris in the water that could potentially cause physical injury.
In addition, you should not eat shellfish such as crabs and shrimp collected in the immediate area of any beach with a no-swim advisory in place. Finfish caught live and healthy can be eaten if filleted.
To help keep beach water safe for swimming and recreation, do not allow pets to roam on beaches and in park areas and pick up pet waste. Additionally, children in diapers and people of all ages with diarrhea should not go into the water.
For more information:
Visit https://ourgulfenvironment.net and click on water monitoring and then bacterial testing to check beach water testing results of area Gulf beaches.
Call 941-BEACHES (941-232-2437) or visit www.visitbeaches.org. Click on the same link to the mobile-friendly version of the beach conditions report.
The local visitor and convention bureau known as Visit Sarasota County also provides extensive information about the Sarasota area, including its beaches. The website is www.visitsarasota.org.
FWC is doing twice weekly updates on red tide for the state at https://myfwc.com/research/redtide/statewide/, including a sampling map that is updated daily.
NOAA has a Gulf of Mexico HAB forecast (updated twice weekly while the bloom persists) that can be found at https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/hab/gomx.html.
|About the Florida Department of Health:The Department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.Follow us on Twitter at @HealthyFla and on Facebook. For more information about the Florida Department of Health please visit www.FloridaHealth.gov.