Red tide remains, but in low counts. Local leaders are working to find a solution for the future. At a meeting on Anna Maria Island, scientists discussed what they're doing to try and improve conditions.
Congressman Vern Buchanan was among those who want long-term solutions for the problem that’s evaded them, so far.
"We want to find a way to work together. Wherever the science takes us, we have to deal with it and do the right thing," Buchanan said.
The director of the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program said there is a solution.
"You want to reduce red tide? Then get ahold of the nutrient loads and make them less than they are right now," Dr. David Tomasko said.
Dead fish washed up on shore from red tide.
The nutrient loads come from local wastewater and storm water spills tainted with fertilizers.
Scientists say the Caloosahatchee River and Lake Okeechobee are also tainted, fueling red tide.
"Water quality is the top issue we have in this region," Buchanan said. "Red tide is a natural occurrence, but at the end of the day, we are aggravating it even more so."
As lawmakers work on funding, the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program is studying solutions. The current research is nicknamed the Magic JetSki. It works much like the name sounds.
Manatee rescued from Holmes Beach (FWC photo)
A Jet Ski-like device could be deployed to a patch of red tide.
Water could be pumped through the system and injected under high pressure with ozone, killing red tide cells and toxins.
"Something like a Jet Ski that can produce 1,000 or 2,000 gallons per minute, if we can ozonate the seawater as quickly as it comes out of the back, then we would have the ability to produce something that could reduce red tide at a scale that is suddenly management relevant," Dr. Tomasko explained.
Two years after scientists first field tested a clay mixture to mitigate red tide, they are looking back on what they learned in Sarasota County and preparing for a new field test.