The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission reported Wednesday “very low” quantities of Karenia brevis — better known as red tide — in Walton and Okaloosa counties.
But local beach safety officials said if it's here, its effects are minimal.
Walton County officials say they haven’t seen any major impact, but beach safety personnel have noticed the presence of red tide in the air.
“We had a concerned citizen … asking about it for the last couple days, and we kept saying (no),” South Walton Fire District Beach Director David Vaughan said. “Right after we sent her our last message, I got a call from my lifeguard supervisor out of the east side of the county.”
Walton County lifeguards reported “tasting” the red tide in the air on Wednesday, Vaughan said.
“I got in (Thursday) morning and saw a report that Walton County is now officially reporting low concentrations,” Vaughan said. “Anecdotally, we can confirm that.”
Okaloosa County Beach Safety Division Chief Rich Huffnagle said they have yet to notice it at all.
According to FWC, Bay County is experiencing low quantities — less than 100,000 cells per liter. However, even a low concentration can kill fish and cause respiratory irritation. Dozens of fish reportedly washed ashore Sunday near St. Andrews State Park.
Vaughan said that the red tide in Northwest Florida is likely "churn" from the last tropical storm.
“What it’s doing it whipping it up … and over," he said. "We’re hoping that we’re just getting a little bit of these northeastern bands that are just pushing it up here and hopefully it will clear out sooner than later. I don’t think it’s going to take hold here.”
He said guards hadn't seen any dead fish yet, but have been asked to keep an eye out for possible fish kills.
A Daily News photographer who went to the beach there Wednesday evening reported seeing about three-dozen bait-sized fish spread widely along the beach. He also saw some dead eels.
A large red tide bloom persists in Southwest Florida and extends from northern Pinellas to Lee counties along approximately 125 miles of coastline, according to a news release from FWC.